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Mol Phylogenet Evol. 2008 Aug;48(2):481-90. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2008.04.035. Epub 2008 May 1.

Recent colonization and radiation of North American Lycaeides (Plebejus) inferred from mtDNA.

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Department of Biology, Population and Conservation Biology Program, Texas State University, San Marcos, TX 78666, USA.


North American Lycaeides populations exhibit remarkable variation in ecological, morphological, and behavioral characters, as well as an established history of introgressive hybridization. We examined mitochondrial DNA variation from 55 Eurasian and North American Lycaeides populations using molecular phylogenetics and coalescent-based methods in order to clarify the evolutionary and demographic history of this polytypic group. Specifically we addressed the following questions: (1) Do mitochondrial alleles sampled from North America form a monophyletic group, which would be expected if North American Lycaeides were descended from a single Eurasian ancestor? (2) When did Lycaeides colonize North America? and (3) What is the demographic history of North American Lycaeides since their colonization? Bayesian maximum likelihood methods identified three major mitochondrial lineages for Lycaeides; each lineage contained haplotypes sampled from both Eurasia and North America. This suggests a complex colonization history for Lycaeides, which likely involved multiple founding lineages. Coalescent-based analyses placed the colonization of North America by Eurasian Lycaeides sometime during or after the late Pliocene. This was followed by a sudden increase in population size of more than an order of magnitude for the North American population of Lycaeides approximately 100,000-150,000 years before the present. These mitochondrial data, in conjunction with data from previous ecological, morphological, and behavioral studies, suggest that the diversity observed in Lycaeides in North America is the result of a recent evolutionary radiation, which may have been facilitated, in part, by hybridization.

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