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1 August 2012 Out of the tropics: a phylogeographic history of the long-tailed weasel, Mustela frenata
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Abstract

The long-tailed weasel (Mustela frenata) has the largest distribution of any mustelid in the Western Hemisphere, yet little is known of its genetic history. As a result of its broad distribution, the species provides an excellent model for identifying potential barriers influencing general phylogeographic patterns shared across multiple taxa. Here we used mitochondrial DNA with phylogenetic, phylogeographic, and molecular dating techniques to investigate molecular and geographical structure, as well as demographic history of M. frenata. Samples encompass 38 of the 42 recognized subspecies ranging from southern Canada to Bolivia. Our results suggest that long-tailed weasels are divided into distinct genetic clades, with eastern and western groups present in North America, 2 distinct lineages in Mexico and Central America separated by the trans-Mexican volcanic belt, and 1 clade in South America. Unlike other Mustela in North America, long-tailed weasels appear to have originated in the tropical areas of Mexico and Central America prior to dispersing 1st to the south before also expanding north in the Pleistocene.

La comadreja de cola larga (Mustela frenata) tiene la distribución más amplia entre todos los mustélidos del hemisferio occidental. Sin embargo, poco se conoce acerca de su historial genético. Dada su amplia distribución geográfica, la especie es un excelente modelo para identificar posibles barreras que influyen en patrones filogeográficos compartidos entre varios taxones. Usamos ADN mitocondrial con técnicas moleculares de datación, filogenia, y filogeografía para investigar la estructura molecular y geográfica así como la historia demográfica de M. frenata. Las muestras incluyen 38 de las 42 subespecies reconocidas desde el sur de Canadá hasta Bolivia. Nuestros resultados sugieren que comadrejas de cola larga se dividen en distintos clados, con grupos orientales y occidentales presentes en América del Norte y dos linajes distintos en México y Centroamérica, separados por el eje transvolcánico mexicano, y finalmente, un clado en América del Sur. A diferencia de otros mustélidos de América del Norte, las comadrejas de cola larga parecen haberse originado en las áreas tropicales de México y América Central previa a dispersión hacia el sur y luego hacia el norte durante el Pleistoceno.

Larisa E. Harding and Jerry W. Dragoo "Out of the tropics: a phylogeographic history of the long-tailed weasel, Mustela frenata," Journal of Mammalogy 93(4), (1 August 2012). https://doi.org/10.1644/11-MAMM-A-280.1
Received: 8 August 2011; Accepted: 1 February 2012; Published: 1 August 2012
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