Population genetic variation in Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos; n = 152) from Western Russia, North Asia, the Aleutian Islands, and mainland Alaska was investigated using 667 base pairs of the 5′-end of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region. DNA sequencing revealed two clades that correspond to Avise et al.’s (1990) group A and B mtDNA haplotypes. Group A haplotypes (80.3%) were wide- spread in all localities from Western Russia to Alaska. Group B haplotypes (19.7%), by contrast, were found primarily in mainland Alaska, where they occurred at high frequency (77.4%), but they also occurred at low frequencies (declining east to west) in the Aleutian Islands (11.8%) and the Primorye region of North Asia (4.4%). Group B haplotypes were not observed in Western Russia or elsewhere in North Asia outside Primorye. Consequently, Mallards exhibited substantial genetic structure between Old World and New World (ΦST = 0.4112–0.4956) but possessed little genetic structure within the Old World continental area (ΦST = 0.0018). Nonetheless, when only group A haplotypes were included in the analysis, Mallards from the Aleutian Islands differed (albeit with low levels of divergence) from each of the other three sampled regions in the Old World and New World (ΦST = 0.0728–0.1461, P < 0.05). Mallards inhabit the Aleutian Islands year-round, so these insular populations may be isolated from Asian and North American populations that occur in the Aleutian Islands only during migration. Overall weak phylogeographic structure and low genetic differentiation within Asia, and between Asia and North America when only group A haplotypes were evaluated, is probably explained by large long-term population sizes and significant intra-continental dispersal. The coexistence and nonrandom distribution of two divergent mtDNA haplotype lineages in Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, and the Primorye region of North Asia, but not in Western Russia or elsewhere in North Asia, is consistent with historical and contemporary hybridization and incomplete sorting of A and B mtDNA haplotype lineages in Mallards and closely related species inhabiting the Old World and New World.
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