We examined the nucleotide sequences of the mitochondrial NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2 gene (976 base pairs) for 279 individuals of the sable Martes zibellina (Carnivora, Mustelidae), derived from diverse areas throughout the regions of the Ural Mountains to the Russian Far East on the Eurasian continent and the peripheral peninsula (Kamchatka) and islands (Sakhalin, Hokkaido, and southern Kurils). The demographic history of the sable and its migration history to the eastern peripheral peninsula and islands were inferred using phylogeographic approaches. The analyses confirmed the previously found major lineages for the examined sables and further identified novel sublineages. Our data also support that a lineage, which is endemic to the eastern marginal islands (Sakhalin, Hokkaido, and southern Kurils), was produced by the demographic expansion of an ancestral lineage in the Eurasian continent. The most recent common ancestor of the Sakhalin, Hokkaido, and southern Kuril sables was estimated to exist during the Late Pleistocene. We also determined that another lineage exists on Sakhalin and is shared by the Far East Primorsky population. Our results indicate multiple migration events onto Sakhalin from the continent and suggest the importance of the formation of several straits to the distribution of sable lineages. Meanwhile, Kamchatka is dominated by a sole lineage which would also have followed the demographic expansion on the Eurasian continent. The Russian Far East was indicated as the source area for lineage diversifications; in this region, genetic diversity was relatively high, which is consistent with previous studies.
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