Mammalian Biology

, Volume 84, Issue 1, pp 35–43 | Cite as

Phylogeography of European moose (Alces alces) based on contemporary mtDNA data and archaeological records

  • Magdalena NiedziałkowskaEmail author
Review Article


Phylogeography can help to determine LGM refugia and postglacial migration routes. However, the locations of LGM refugial areas in eastern Europe are not clear. Moose (Alces alces) is presently a common species in central and north-eastern Europe, but there are no studies showing its phylogenetic pattern and genetic diversity across its whole continuous range. Moose never became extinct in the eastern part of its range, and the eastern mtDNA lineage has the largest effective population size. The present study shows the phylogeographic pattern and genetic diversity of European moose and compares the results of mtDNA analyses with the archaeological record of the species to identify its LGM refugia and postglacial migration routes. I combined the mtDNA control region sequences obtained in all studies of moose in Europe and western Asia. The genetic data were then compared with the archaeological records of the species dated to the LGM. I found that the European moose lineage inhabits Europe and western Asia. It is composed of two clades: the eastern and the central-western, consisting of a total of six discrete haplogroups. The most complex, the eastern clade, has the largest range. Some of the haplogroups have narrow or scattered distributions and two are common in almost the whole range. Genetic diversity hotspots were detected in contact zones of different mtDNA haplogroups rather than in the LGM refugial areas of moose. Archaeological records dated to the LGM were found in several localities in central, southern and eastern Europe as well as in western Asia. The range of the moose during the LGM was much larger than previously thought. The eastern clade survived the LGM in western Siberia, the Ural Mountains and Russian plain. LGM refugia of moose were also located in the Caucasus, Carpathians, Balkans and northern Italy.


Control region of mtDNA Genetic diversity Last Glacial Maximum LGM refugia Postglacial recolonization 


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Copyright information

© Deutsche Gesellschaft für Säugetierkunde, e. V. DGS 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Mammal Research InstitutePolish Academy of SciencesBiałowieżaPoland

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