Evolutionary history and species delimitations: a case study of the hazel dormouse, Muscardinus avellanarius

Maurizio Sara', Matur, Mortelliti, Lang, Grill, Latinne, Michaux, Mouton, Adamik, Schulz, Lang, Mazzoti, Ehlers, Lang, Verbeylen, Poitevin, Elmeros, Aloise, Amori, TroutRandi, Büchner, Boris Kryštufek, Juškaitis, Maurizio Sara, Dorenbosch

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10 Citazioni (Scopus)


Robust identification of species and significant evolutionary units (ESUs) is essential to implement appropriate conservation strategies for endangered species. However, definitions of species or ESUs are numerous andsometimes controversial, which might lead to biased conclusions, with serious consequences for the management ofendangered species. The hazel dormouse, an arboreal rodent of conservation concern throughout Europe is anideal model species to investigate the relevance of species identification for conservation purposes. This species is amember of the Gliridae family, which is protected in Europe and seriously threatened in the northern part of itsrange. We assessed the extent of genetic subdivision in the hazel dormouse by sequencing one mitochondrial gene(cytb) and two nuclear genes (BFIBR, APOB) and genotyping 10 autosomal microsatellites. These data were analysed using a combination of phylogenetic analyses and species delimitation methods. Multilocus analyses revealedthe presence of two genetically distinct lineages (approximately 11 % cytb genetic divergence, no nuclear allelesshared) for the hazel dormouse in Europe, which presumably diverged during the Late Miocene. The phylogeneticpatterns suggests that Muscardinus avellanarius populations could be split into two cryptic species respectivelydistributed in western and central-eastern Europe and Anatolia. However, the comparison of several speciesdefinitions and methods estimated the number of species between 1 and 10. Our results revealed the difficulty inchoosing and applying an appropriate criterion and markers to identify species and highlight the fact that consensusguidelines are essential for species delimitation in the future. In addition, this study contributes to a betterknowledge about the evolutionary history of the species.
Lingua originaleEnglish
pagine (da-a)181-196
Numero di pagine16
Stato di pubblicazionePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

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