Mammalian Biology

, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 258–267 | Cite as

Phylogeny of Palearctic vole species (genus Microtus, Rodentia) based on mitochondrial sequences

  • Elisabeth HaringEmail author
  • Irina N. Sheremetyeva
  • Alexey P. Kryukov
Original Investigation


Within the species-rich rodent genus Microtus, the Microtus fortis species-group is not well studied so far. We investigated DNA sequences of the mitochondrial control region in taxa of this group to assess the inter- and intraspecific variation and differentiation of populations, and to establish a molecular phylogeny. For comparison, samples of Microtus oeconomus covering the species distribution range were analyzed. Within the M. fortis group five distinct highly supported lineages were found. Four of them represent single species: Microtus fortis, Microtus sachalinensis, Microtus hyperboreus, and Microtus gromovi. The fifth clade comprises Microtus mujanensis, Microtus evoronensis and Microtus maximowiczii. Genetic distances between these five lineages range from 5.4% to 9.2%. The distinct position of M. gromovi confirms the proposed species status suggested by earlier chromosome and cranial-morphological investigations. The trees also indicate that M. hyperboreus belongs to the M. fortis group and is the sister group of M. gromovi. Genetic diversity is rather high within the East Asian M. fortis species-group, which is also characterized by high chromosomal variation as determined in previous studies. The phylogeographic relationships found in M. oeconomus are in accordance with previous findings based on the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene. There are tree main haplogroups (Europe, Siberia, Beringia) found in this Holarctic species. The genetic distances between these groups in the mitochondrial control region range from 3.4% to 4.1%.

In general, genetic diversity and species richness of voles in the Eastern Palearctic implies that this region might have provided ideal conditions for the radiation of this species group.


Microtus fortis species-group Microtus oeconomus Mitochondrial control region Phylogeography 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisabeth Haring
    • 1
    Email author
  • Irina N. Sheremetyeva
    • 2
  • Alexey P. Kryukov
    • 2
  1. 1.Museum of Natural History ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Institute of Biology and Soil ScienceRussian Academy of SciencesVladivostokRussia

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