Molecular Systematics of Chipmunks (Neotamias) Inferred by Mitochondrial Control Region Sequences
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Western chipmunks (Neotamias) exhibit a complex geographical distribution and can vary by minute morphological differences. This has lead to confusion around the taxonomy and evolutionary history of this group. The main focus of this molecular study was to infer taxonomic relationships within Neotamias, especially at the tips of the tree. Sequences of the complete control region for 16 species of chipmunks (Tamias, Neotamias) were analyzed independently and in combination with previously published sequences of two mitochondrial genes, cytochrome b and cytochrome oxidase II. The control region data set corroborated the findings of Piaggio and Spicer (2001) in finding five discrete clades, while also providing stronger bootstrap support for most terminal branches. Analysis of individual mitochondrial genes revealed that not all genes have the same phylogenetic signal and when analyzed in combination, this incongruence amongst genes is resolved.
KeywordsChipmunks Tamias Neotamias Phylogenetics Mitochondrial DNA Control region
We thank the Museum of Southwestern Biology for many of the tissue samples. We also thank the University of California Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, the Burke Museum of Natural History, and the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. We would like to thank Eric Routman and Robert Patterson for their useful comments and suggestions during the editing process. We would also like to thank Corrie Saux, Maria DeAngelo, and Rebecca Carson for their support and advice. Thanks to Frank Cipriano and Craig Reading of the SFSU Conservation Genetics Lab for their instruction in molecular techniques. This work was partly funded by a Research Infrastructure in Minority Institutions award from the National Center for Research Resources with funding from the Office of Research on Minority Health, NIH 5 P20 RR11805 awarded to G.S.S.
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