The phylogeographic pattern of mitochondrial DNA variation in water voles (Arvicola terrestris) from 57 localities across the United Kingdom and representative samples from Spain, France, Switzerland and Finland was determined from sequence variation in the central portion of the control region. Twenty-seven different haplotypes were resolved which formed two distinct phylogenetic clades. This major division separated haplotypes found in Scotland from those found in England and Wales. Nested clade analysis of haplotypes indicated that such a division was a consequence of allopatric fragmentation. The haplotypes found in Switzerland, France and Spain clustered with Scottish haplotypes, whereas the haplotype from Finland clustered with the English/Welsh haplotypes. These patterns indicate that contemporary Scottish populations are derived from an Iberian glacial refugium, whereas English and Welsh populations are derived from an eastern European refugium. As such, the postglacial recolonization of the United Kingdom must have involved two colonization events, either in different localities with no subsequent contact, or as two waves separated over time, with the second wave of colonizers displacing the first. An analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) identified significant population genetic divergence within both the major clades, indicative of restricted gene flow and regional population isolation. The implications of both phylogeographical and population genetic structure are discussed in context with the conservation of water voles in Britain.
- evolutionary significant units
- water vole
- GEOGRAPHIC SUBDIVISION
- CONSERVATION BIOLOGY
- ICE AGES