We examined intraspecific relationships in the eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger) and the eastern gray squirrel (S. carolinensis) using sequence variation in a portion of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome-b gene and part of the D-loop in the control region. These closely related species are codistributed temperate forest obligates that have similar generation time and population ecologies. For both species, we documented high haplotype diversity, low nucleotide variation, and several groups of divergent haplotypes. However, there is a general lack of spatial structure in maternal lineages within each species. For S. carolinensis, we observed a pattern of population genetic structure that suggests the presence of at least 2 distinct refugial populations that evolved in isolation during the Pleistocene (approximately 98.3–266.3 thousand years ago [kya]) and subsequently expanded to the species' current range following the last glacial maximum. For S. niger, the genetic structure was much less pronounced, with fewer strongly diverged haplotypes. This finding suggests that eastern fox squirrels persisted in either a single population in a glacial refugium or as several refugial populations that maintained gene flow throughout the Pleistocene. For both species, there is evidence that scattered populations were present in multiple, small refugia close to the Laurentide Ice Sheet, allowing rapid range expansion following glacial recession. Taken together, our results indicate that S. niger and S. carolinensis underwent multiple episodes of genetic divergence during isolation in glacial refugia, followed by range expansion and contact that resulted in admixture of divergent maternal lineages within each species during interglacials. Examination of our data further indicates that the most recent range expansion in both species occurred within the past 12–20 kya.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.