Glaciation effects on the phylogeographic structure of Oligoryzomys longicaudatus (rodentia: Sigmodontinae) in the southern andes

R. Eduardo Palma, Dusan Boric-Bargetto, Fernando Torres-Pérez, Cristián E. Hernández, Terry L. Yates

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The long-tailed pygmy rice rat Oligoryzomys longicaudatus (Sigmodontinae), the major reservoir of Hantavirus in Chile and Patagonian Argentina, is widely distributed in the Mediterranean, Temperate and Patagonian Forests of Chile, as well as in adjacent areas in southern Argentina. We used molecular data to evaluate the effects of the last glacial event on the phylogeographic structure of this species. We examined if historical Pleistocene events had affected genetic variation and spatial distribution of this species along its distributional range. We sampled 223 individuals representing 47 localities along the species range, and sequenced the hypervariable domain I of the mtDNA control region. Aligned sequences were analyzed using haplotype network, Bayesian population structure and demographic analyses. Analysis of population structure and the haplotype network inferred three genetic clusters along the distribution of O. longicaudatus that mostly agreed with the three major ecogeographic regions in Chile: Mediterranean, Temperate Forests and Patagonian Forests. Bayesian Skyline Plots showed constant population sizes through time in all three clusters followed by an increase after and during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM; between 26,000-13,000 years ago). Neutrality tests and the "g" parameter also suggest that populations of O. longicaudatus experienced demographic expansion across the species entire range. Past climate shifts have influenced population structure and lineage variation of O. longicaudatus. This species remained in refugia areas during Pleistocene times in southern Temperate Forests (and adjacent areas in Patagonia). From these refugia, O. longicaudatus experienced demographic expansions into Patagonian Forests and central Mediterranean Chile using glacial retreats.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere32206
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2012


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