Phylogeographic history of grey wolves in Europe

Pilot, Malgorzata, Branicki, Wojciech, Jedrzejewski, Wlodzimierz , Goszczynski, Jacek, Jedrzejewska, Bogumila, Dykyy, Ihor, Shkvyrya, Maryna and Tsingarska, Elena (2010) Phylogeographic history of grey wolves in Europe. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10 (104). p. 104. ISSN 1471-2148

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Background: While it is generally accepted that patterns of intra-specific genetic differentiation are substantially
affected by glacial history, population genetic processes occurring during Pleistocene glaciations are still poorly
understood. In this study, we address the question of the genetic consequences of Pleistocene glaciations for
European grey wolves. Combining our data with data from published studies, we analysed phylogenetic relationships
and geographic distribution of mitochondrial DNA haplotypes for 947 contemporary European wolves. We also
compared the contemporary wolf sequences with published sequences of 24 ancient European wolves.
Results: We found that haplotypes representing two haplogroups, 1 and 2, overlap geographically, but substantially
differ in frequency between populations from south-western and eastern Europe. A comparison between haplotypes
from Europe and other continents showed that both haplogroups are spread throughout Eurasia, while only
haplogroup 1 occurs in contemporary North American wolves. All ancient wolf samples from western Europe that
dated from between 44,000 and 1,200 years B.P. belonged to haplogroup 2, suggesting the long-term predominance
of this haplogroup in this region. Moreover, a comparison of current and past frequencies and distributions of the two
haplogroups in Europe suggested that haplogroup 2 became outnumbered by haplogroup 1 during the last several
thousand years.
Conclusions: Parallel haplogroup replacement, with haplogroup 2 being totally replaced by haplogroup 1, has been
reported for North American grey wolves. Taking into account the similarity of diets reported for the late Pleistocene
wolves from Europe and North America, the correspondence between these haplogroup frequency changes may
suggest that they were associated with ecological changes occurring after the Last Glacial Maximum.

Keywords:Phylogeography, Grey wolf, Genetic differentiation
Subjects:C Biological Sciences > C182 Evolution
Divisions:College of Science > School of Life Sciences
ID Code:7262
Deposited On:15 Jan 2013 12:33

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