We used nucleotide sequence data from a mitochondrial DNA fragment to characterize variation within the endangered Lower Keys marsh rabbit (Sylvilagus palustris hefneri). We observed 5 unique mitochondrial haplotypes across different sampling sites in the Lower Florida Keys, USA. Based on the frequency of these haplotypes at different geographic locations and relationships among haplotypes, we observed 2 distinct clades or groups of sampling sites (western and eastern clades). These 2 groups showed low levels of gene flow. Regardless of their origin, marsh rabbits from the Lower Florida Keys can be separated into 2 genetically distinct management units, which should be considered prior to implementation of translocations as a means of offsetting recent population declines.
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Vol. 73 • No. 3