This study describes in detail the phylogeographic pattern of the edible dormouse (Glis glis) a European rodent with pronounced hibernating behavior. We used sequences of 831 base pairs of the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome-b gene from 130 edible dormice collected at 43 localities throughout its distribution. Our results reveal presence of 3 main haplogroups: Sicilian, South Italian (restricted to the Calabrian region), and European (a widespread lineage corresponding to all remaining western, central, and eastern European populations). Examination of paleontological data confirms refugial regions for G. glis in the 3 Mediterranean peninsulas, although overall low genetic diversity is found. The low diversity of the European lineage is probably the result of a recent expansion (dated around 2,000 years ago) from a single refugium. Other factors, such as the ecological constraints on the species, may have caused genetic bottlenecks that reinforced the low genetic variability of G. glis. This work could have important implications for strategies to conserve the edible dormouse by defining important areas for their conservation.
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Vol. 91 • No. 1