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A genetic record of population isolation in pocket gophers during Holocene climatic change

By Elizabeth A. Hadly, Michael H. Kohn, Jennifer A. Leonard and Robert K. Wayne


A long-standing question in Quaternary paleontology is whether climate-induced, population-level phenotypic change is a result of large-scale migration or evolution in isolation. To directly measure genetic variation through time, ancient DNA and morphologic variation was measured over 2,400 years in a Holocene sequence of pocket gophers (Thomomys talpoides) from Lamar Cave, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. Ancient specimens and modern samples collected near Lamar Cave share mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences that are absent from adjacent localities, suggesting that the population was isolated for the entire period. In contrast, diastemal length, a morphologic character correlated with body size and nutritional level, changed predictably in response to climatic change. Our results demonstrate that small mammal populations can experience the long-term isolation assumed by many theoretical models of microevolutionary change

Topics: Biological Sciences
Publisher: The National Academy of Sciences
Year: 1998
OAI identifier:
Provided by: PubMed Central
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