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Heredity (Edinb). 2014 Nov;113(5):443-53. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2014.45. Epub 2014 Apr 30.

Revisiting the phylogeography and demography of European badgers (Meles meles) based on broad sampling, multiple markers and simulations.

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  • 11] NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK [2] Musée National d'Histoire Naturelle, Luxembourg, Luxembourg.
  • 2School of Biology and Environmental Science, University College Dublin, Dublin, Ireland.
  • 3School of Biological Science, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Queensland, Australia.
  • 4Department of Genetics and Animal Breeding, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, Wrocław, Poland.
  • 5Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences, University of Tartu, Tartu, Estonia.
  • 6NERC Biomolecular Analysis Facility, Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK.
  • 7Department of Bioscience, Aarhus University, Rønde, Denmark.
  • 8Animal Biology Department, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
  • 9Department of Zoology, Biogeography and Population Dynamics Research Group, University of the Basque Country, UPV/EHU, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Spain.
  • 10Department of Biosciences, University of Milan, Milan, Italy.
  • 11Research Institute for Nature and Forest, Geraardsbergen, Belgium.
  • 12Department of Zoology and Entomology, University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa.
  • 13National Veterinary Institute, Department of Pathology and Wildlife Diseases, Uppsala, Sweden.
  • 14Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Vienna, Austria.
  • 15Administration de la nature et des forêts, Luxembourg, Luxembourg.
  • 16Mammal Research Institute, Bialowieza, Poland.
  • 17Queen's University Belfast, Northern Ireland, UK.
  • 18Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia.
  • 19Department of Fisheries, Beekeeping, Game Management and Special Zoology, University of Zagreb, Zagreb, Croatia.
  • 20CNRS, UMR 6553, ECOBIO, Université de Rennes 1, Rennes, France.
  • 21Università degli Studi di Torino, Torino, Italy.
  • 22Balkani Wildlife Society, Sofia, Bulgaria.
  • 239 chemin du Kilbs, Bischoffsheim, France.
  • 24Departamento de Zoologia e Antropologia, Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal.
  • 25Department of Nature Conservation, University of Kaposvár, Kaposvár, Hungary.
  • 26Domplatz 4, Halle/Saale, Germany.
  • 27Institute of Forest Botany and Forest Zoology, Dresden University of Technology, Tharandt, Germany.


Although the phylogeography of European mammals has been extensively investigated since the 1990s, many studies were limited in terms of sampling distribution, the number of molecular markers used and the analytical techniques employed, frequently leading to incomplete postglacial recolonisation scenarios. The broad-scale genetic structure of the European badger (Meles meles) is of interest as it may result from historic restriction to glacial refugia and/or recent anthropogenic impact. However, previous studies were based mostly on samples from western Europe, making it difficult to draw robust conclusions about the location of refugia, patterns of postglacial expansion and recent demography. In the present study, continent-wide sampling and analyses with multiple markers provided evidence for two glacial refugia (Iberia and southeast Europe) that contributed to the genetic variation observed in badgers in Europe today. Approximate Bayesian computation provided support for a colonisation of Scandinavia from both Iberian and southeastern refugia. In the whole of Europe, we observed a decline in genetic diversity with increasing latitude, suggesting that the reduced diversity in the peripheral populations resulted from a postglacial expansion processes. Although MSVAR v.1.3 also provided evidence for recent genetic bottlenecks in some of these peripheral populations, the simulations performed to estimate the method's power to correctly infer the past demography of our empirical populations suggested that the timing and severity of bottlenecks could not be established with certainty. We urge caution against trying to relate demographic declines inferred using MSVAR with particular historic or climatological events.

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