Temporal genetic variation of the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, across western Europe and the British Isles

Edwards, Ceiridwen and Soulsbury, Carl and Statham, Mark and Ho, Simon and Wall, David and Dolf, Gaudenz and Iossa, Graziella and Baker, Philip and Harris, Stephen and Sacks, Benjamin and Bradley, Daniel (2012) Temporal genetic variation of the red fox, Vulpes vulpes, across western Europe and the British Isles. Quaternary Science Reviews, 57 (4). pp. 95-104. ISSN 0277-3791

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.quascirev.2012.10.010

Abstract

Quaternary climatic fluctuations have had profound effects on the phylogeographic structure of many
species. Classically, species were thought to have become isolated in peninsular refugia, but there is
limited evidence that large, non-polar species survived outside traditional refugial areas. We examined
the phylogeographic structure of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), a species that shows high ecological
adaptability in the western Palaearctic region. We compared mitochondrial DNA sequences (cytochrome
b and control region) from 399 modern and 31 ancient individuals from across Europe. Our objective was
to test whether red foxes colonised the British Isles from mainland Europe in the late Pleistocene, or
whether there is evidence that they persisted in the region through the Last Glacial Maximum.
We found red foxes to show a high degree of phylogeographic structuring across Europe and,
consistent with palaeontological and ancient DNA evidence, confirmed via phylogenetic indicators that
red foxes were persistent in areas outside peninsular refugia during the last ice age. Bayesian analyses
and tests of neutrality indicated population expansion. We conclude that there is evidence that red foxes
from the British Isles derived from central European populations that became isolated after the closure of
the landbridge with Europe.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Quaternary climatic fluctuations have had profound effects on the phylogeographic structure of many species. Classically, species were thought to have become isolated in peninsular refugia, but there is limited evidence that large, non-polar species survived outside traditional refugial areas. We examined the phylogeographic structure of the red fox (Vulpes vulpes), a species that shows high ecological adaptability in the western Palaearctic region. We compared mitochondrial DNA sequences (cytochrome b and control region) from 399 modern and 31 ancient individuals from across Europe. Our objective was to test whether red foxes colonised the British Isles from mainland Europe in the late Pleistocene, or whether there is evidence that they persisted in the region through the Last Glacial Maximum. We found red foxes to show a high degree of phylogeographic structuring across Europe and, consistent with palaeontological and ancient DNA evidence, confirmed via phylogenetic indicators that red foxes were persistent in areas outside peninsular refugia during the last ice age. Bayesian analyses and tests of neutrality indicated population expansion. We conclude that there is evidence that red foxes from the British Isles derived from central European populations that became isolated after the closure of the landbridge with Europe.
Keywords:red fox, Mitochondrial complexes, control region, cytochrome b
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C300 Zoology
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:6798
Deposited By: Carl Soulsbury
Deposited On:11 Nov 2012 20:00
Last Modified:13 Mar 2013 09:18

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