The existing literature, museum records, personal reports of field biologists and our own field results were compiled to assess the present distribution of the common hamster within Transylvania and the Pannonian Plain of Romania. Combining available distribution data and the existence of natural barriers we were able to designate five, possibly separate, populations: the Pannonian Plain, the Transylvanian Plateau, the Olt Valley, the Braşov Depression and the Ciuc Depression population. The Pannonian Plain and the Transylvanian Plateau populations showed mass outbreaks in recent years. Twenty three individuals were available for the genetic analyses. The populations belonged to the Pannonia lineage, based on the sequences of 16SrRNA, cytb and ctr of mtDNA. In general we found very high diversity in mtDNA and 16 microsatellite loci. Moreover the most common ctr haplotypes for the Transylvanian Plateau were also present in the Pannonian Plain population and in populations from Hungary and Slovakia, which indicates recent or even current exchange of individuals. Summing up, recent mass outbreaks and high levels of genetic diversity, with some indication of current or very recent gene flow, showed that Romanian populations are in good state, at least compared to many other European countries. As such, these populations should be of particular interest and placed under protection, as they could serve as the reservoir of the genetic variability for the European Pannonia lineage of the common hamster.
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