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Phylogeographic structure and gene flow of Himalayan snowcock (Tetraogallus himalayensis)

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We have used phylogeographic methods to investigate the genetic structure and population history of the endangered Himalayan snowcock (Tetraogallus himalayensis) in northwestern China. The mitochondrial cytochrome b gene was sequenced of 102 individuals sampled throughout the distribution range. In total, we found 26 different haplotypes defined by 28 polymorphic sites. Phylogenetic analyses indicated that the samples were divided into two major haplogroups corresponding to one western and one eastern clade. The divergence time between these major clades was estimated to be approximately one million years. An analysis of molecular variance showed that 40% of the total genetic variability was found within local populations, 12% among populations within regional groups and 48% among groups. An analysis of the demographic history of the populations suggested that major expansions have occurred in the Himalayan snowcock populations and these correlate mainly with the first and the second largest glaciations during the Pleistocene. In addition, the data indicate that there was a population expansion of the Tianshan population during the uplift of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, approximately 2 million years ago.

Affiliations: 1: School of Life Sciences and Food Engineering, Nanchang University, Nanchang, 330031, China; 2: School of Life Science, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou, 730000, China; 3: Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, Harvard University, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138; 4: Department of Chemistry and Life Sciences, Leshan Teachers College, Leshan, 614004, China


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