Climatic Change

, Volume 86, Issue 1–2, pp 23–27 | Cite as

Evidence for cryptic northern refugia among high- and temperate-latitude species in Beringia

A response to Stewart and Dalén (2008)


Stewart and Dalén (2008) argue that only temperate species were locked in cryptic northern refugia during Pleistocene glacial cycles, while species presently found at high latitudes had much wider distributions during glaciations. We present evidence supporting the existence of cryptic northern refugia that likely harbored both high- and temperate-latitude species in the Bering Sea region. Genetic signals of refugial isolation are found in island populations of rock ptarmigan (Lagopus muta), rock sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis), common raven (Corvus corax), and winter wren (Troglodytes troglodytes). These species have high-latitude, a mixture of high- and temperate-latitude, and temperate-latitude distributions. In addition, there are no data showing historically larger distributions of the high-latitude rock sandpiper or rock ptarmigan in North America during the Pleistocene. Although exact dating of isolation events is not possible using molecular genetic data, the species we examined have similar genetic signals and thus were isolated at similar times. It is evident that Pleistocene glaciations produced refugial genetic signatures among multiple bird species in the North Pacific Ocean.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. FAUNMAP (1996) Spatial response of mammals to late Quaternary environmental fluctuations. Science 272:1601–1606CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Gill RE, Tomkovich PS, McCaffery BJ (2003) Rock sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis). In: Poole A, Gill F (eds) Birds of North America, No. 686. The Birds of North America, Inc., PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  3. Holder K, Montgomerie R (1993) Rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus). In: Poole A, Gill F (eds) Birds of North America, No. 51. The Birds of North America, Inc., PhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  4. Holder K, Montgomerie R, Friesen VL (1999) A test of the glacial refugium hypothesis using patterns of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequence variation in rock ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus). Evolution 53:1936–1950CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Mindell DP (1997) Avian molecular evolution and systematics. Academic, San DiegoGoogle Scholar
  6. Olson SL (1985) The fossil record of birds. In: Farner DS, King JR, Parkee KC (eds) Avian biology vol VIII. Academic, Orlando, pp 79–238Google Scholar
  7. Potapov RL, Potapova OR, Pavlova EA (2003) The genus Lagopus Brisson, 1760: taxonomy, paleontological dates, and evolution. Proceedings of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences 233:101–120Google Scholar
  8. Pruett CL (2002) Phylogeography and population genetic structure of Aleutian Island landbirds. Doctor of Philosophy Dissertation, University of Alaska FairbanksGoogle Scholar
  9. Pruett CL, Winker K (2005) Biological impacts of climatic change on a Beringian endemic: cryptic refugia in the establishment and differentiation of the rock sandpiper (Calidris ptilocnemis). Climatic Change 68:219–240CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ray N, Adams JM (2001) A GIS-based vegetation map of the world at the last glacial maximum (25,000–15,000 BP). Internet Archaeology, 11 (
  11. Stewart JR, Dalén L (2008) Is the glacial refugium concept relevant for northern species? Climatic Change 70 (in press)Google Scholar
  12. Winker K, Gibson DD, Sowls A, Lawhead B, Martin P, Hoberg E, Causey D (2002) The birds of St. Matthew Island, Bering Sea. Wilson Bulletin 114:491–509CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Winker K, Rocque D, Braile TM, Pruett CL (2007) Vainly beating the air: species concept debates need not impede science and conservation. Ornithological Monographs 63:30–44CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Alaska MuseumFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Oklahoma Biological SurveySutton Avian Research CenterBartlesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations