Chinese Science Bulletin

, Volume 56, Issue 13, pp 1370–1382

Genetic consequences of postglacial colonization by the endemic Yarkand hare (Lepus yarkandensis) of the arid Tarim Basin

Open Access
Article Population Genetics

DOI: 10.1007/s11434-011-4460-9

Cite this article as:
Shan, W., Liu, J., Yu, L. et al. Chin. Sci. Bull. (2011) 56: 1370. doi:10.1007/s11434-011-4460-9


Orogenesis of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, which occurred in a stepwise manner, contributed to the extreme aridity of the Tarim Basin, resulting in vulnerable and unstable ecosystems. Quaternary climatic oscillations may have affected the ecosystems and, consequently, the distributions and genetic structuring of the Tarim Basin’s biota. We used nucleotide sequence data from 2 mitochondrial (mt) DNA genes (Cyt b and the D-loop) to test hypotheses associated with the matrilineal and demographical histories of the Tarim Basin’s endemic Yarkand hare (Lepus yarkandensis). Range-wide sampling involving 20 populations and 224 individuals detected 126 haplotypes that clustered into 5 major lineages in both the phylogenetic tree and median-joining network. Populations from the northern and eastern Tarim Basin shared a similar history, as did those from the western and southern regions. Demographical analysis and genetic diversity estimations suggested that the western and southern regions might have served as glacial refugia for the Yarkand hare during Quaternary climatic oscillations. The distribution of the Yarkand hare, especially in the northern and eastern parts, probably represented 3 postglacial colonization events, dated to 0.21, 0.090 and 0.054 MYA, which corresponded to known interglacial periods. Given the relatively complete geographic isolation between the eastern and southern populations, the Yarkand hare likely dispersed during postglacial periods from the southwest to the north, and then onward to the east. The absence of water likely forced the species into refugia, and this differed from other Pleistocene biogeographical drivers. The demographical and historical patterns have important implications for conservation.


mtDNA glacial refugia Quaternary Pleistocene Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau conservation Lagomorpha Leporidae 
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© The Author(s) 2011

Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits any use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life Sciences and TechnologyXinjiang UniversityUrumqiChina
  2. 2.Laboratory for Conservation and Utilization of Bio-resource & Key Laboratory for Microbial Resources of the Ministry of EducationYunnan UniversityKunmingChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Genetic Resources and EvolutionKunming Institute of ZoologyKunmingChina
  4. 4.Centre for Biodiversity and Conservation BiologyRoyal Ontario MuseumOntarioCanada

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