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Historical DNA reveals the phylogenetic position of the extinct Alpine lynx


Gugolz, D; Bernasconi, Marco V; Breitenmoser-Würsten, C; Wandeler, P (2008). Historical DNA reveals the phylogenetic position of the extinct Alpine lynx. Journal of Zoology, 275(2):201-208.

Abstract

During the last two centuries, lynx populations have undergone severe declines and extinctions in Europe. The Alpine lynx, once distributed across the whole Alpine arc, became extinct due to direct human prosecution and deprivation of its main prey in the 1930s. Similar to the Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus, its taxonomy has been subject to several controversies. Moreover, knowing the taxonomic status of the Alpine lynx will help to define conservation units of extant lynx populations in Europe. In this study, we investigated two mitochondrial DNA regions in museum specimens (n=15) representing the autochthonous Alpine population and in samples from extant Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx populations in Europe and Asia (n=17). Phylogenetic analysis (cytochrome b, 345 bp) placed the Alpine lynx within the Eurasian lynx lineage. Among all individuals examined, seven different haplotypes (control region, 300 bp) were observed but no unique Alpine haplotype was discovered. Haplotypes of the extinct Alpine population were identical to previously described haplotypes in Scandinavian lynx signifying a recent genetic ancestry with current European populations. Moreover, our genetic data suggest two distinct glacial refugia for the Carpathian and Balkan population. Overall this study demonstrates that historical DNA from extinct populations can help to disentangle the phylogenetic relationships and historical biogeography of taxa with only a limited number of extant populations remaining.

Abstract

During the last two centuries, lynx populations have undergone severe declines and extinctions in Europe. The Alpine lynx, once distributed across the whole Alpine arc, became extinct due to direct human prosecution and deprivation of its main prey in the 1930s. Similar to the Iberian lynx Lynx pardinus, its taxonomy has been subject to several controversies. Moreover, knowing the taxonomic status of the Alpine lynx will help to define conservation units of extant lynx populations in Europe. In this study, we investigated two mitochondrial DNA regions in museum specimens (n=15) representing the autochthonous Alpine population and in samples from extant Eurasian lynx Lynx lynx populations in Europe and Asia (n=17). Phylogenetic analysis (cytochrome b, 345 bp) placed the Alpine lynx within the Eurasian lynx lineage. Among all individuals examined, seven different haplotypes (control region, 300 bp) were observed but no unique Alpine haplotype was discovered. Haplotypes of the extinct Alpine population were identical to previously described haplotypes in Scandinavian lynx signifying a recent genetic ancestry with current European populations. Moreover, our genetic data suggest two distinct glacial refugia for the Carpathian and Balkan population. Overall this study demonstrates that historical DNA from extinct populations can help to disentangle the phylogenetic relationships and historical biogeography of taxa with only a limited number of extant populations remaining.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Language:English
Date:2008
Deposited On:09 Sep 2008 07:24
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:25
Publisher:Wiley-Blackwell
ISSN:0952-8369
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-7998.2008.00428.x

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