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Heredity (Edinb). 2009 May;102(5):490-6. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2008.133. Epub 2009 Jan 21.

European phylogeography of the common frog (Rana temporaria): routes of postglacial colonization into the British Isles, and evidence for an Irish glacial refugium.

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Wildlife Epidemiology, Institute of Zoology, Zoological Society of London, Regent's Park, London, UK.


We use phylogenetic techniques to investigate the postglacial re-population of Europe by the common frog and, in particular, the colonization of Ireland. Three main hypotheses have been proposed for the re-establishment of the Irish fauna after the last ice age: arrival across a late-glacial land bridge from Britain; expansion from a glacial refuge in the south of Ireland and, for some species, re-introduction by humans from Iberia. We examined the phylogeographic structure of 52 populations of the common frog (Rana temporaria) throughout Europe using 476-bp mitochondrial cytochrome b gene sequences. Our data replicate earlier studies in showing substantial sequence divergence (3%) between Eastern and Western European common frog haplotypes. However, we uncover a new evidence that these haplotypes co-exist in Spain, Switzerland and France, and infer an expansion of the eastern clade along the Mediterranean coastal corridor. All the British samples fall within the Western European clade, but the Irish data imply a different history. Genetically distinct haplotypes occur in populations from the south-west of Ireland. This local genetic differentiation may be a consequence of a local glacial refuge, possibly combined with natural colonization or introduction from Western Europe.

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