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Evidence of complex phylogeographic structure for the threatened rodent Leopoldamys neilli, in Southeast Asia

Latinne A., Waengsothorn S., Herbreteau V., Michaux J.. 2011. Conservation Genetics, 12 (6) : p. 1495-1511.

DOI: 10.1007/s10592-011-0248-3

Leopoldamys neilli is a threatened murine rodent species endemic to limestone karsts of Thailand. We have studied the phylogeography of L. neilli using two mitochondrial markers (cytb, COI) and one nuclear fragment (bfibr), in order to assess the influence of its endemicity to karst habitat. One hundred fifteen individuals of L. neilli were collected in 20 localities throughout the geographic range of this species in Thailand. Our study revealed strong geographic structure of the mtDNA genetic diversity: six highly differentiated, allopatric genetic lineages were observed in our dataset. They exhibit a very high degree of genetic divergence, low gene flow among lineages and low levels of haplotype and nucleotide diversities within lineages. Our results suggest that L. neilli's populations are highly fragmented due to the scattered distribution of its karst habitat. The most divergent lineage includes the populations from western Thailand, which have been separated from the other genetic lineages since at least the Early Pleistocene. The other lineages are more closely related and have diverged since the Middle Pleistocene. This study revealed an unexpected high level of genetic differentiation within L. neilli and highlighted the high endemicity of this species to limestone karsts. Our results enhance the importance of protecting limestone habitats to preserve not only the species but also intraspecific diversity. (Résumé d'auteur)

Mots-clés : rodentia; rongeur; karst; thaïlande; asie du sud-est; leopoldamys neilli

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