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Exceptional maternal lineage diversity in brown bears (Ursus arctos) from Turkey

Cilingir, F. Gozde
Peksen, Cigdem Akin
Ambarli, Huseyin
Beerli, Peter
Bilgin, Cemal Can
The genetic diversity and phylogeography of maternal lineages in Ursus arctos Linnaeus, 1758 (the brown bear) have been studied extensively over the last two decades; however, sampling has largely been limited to the northern Holarctic, and was possibly biased towards lineages that recolonized the vast expanses of the north as the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) ended. Here we report the genetic diversity and phylogeography of U.arctos from Turkey based on 35 non-invasive samples, including five from captive individuals. Bayesian phylogenetic analyses based on a 269-bp fragment of the mitochondrial DNA control region revealed 14 novel haplotypes belonging to three major lineages. The most widespread lineage was found to be the Eastern clade3a, whereas geographically more restricted Western and Middle Eastern lineages were reported for the first time in Turkey. A specimen from the Taurus mountain range carried a haplotype closely related to the presumably extinct bears in Lebanon. Moreover, we identify a unique new lineage that appears to have split early within the Middle Eastern clade. Despite limited sampling, our study reveals a high level of mitochondrial diversity in Turkish U.arctos, shows that the ranges of both European and Middle Eastern clades extend into Turkey, and identifies a new divergent lineage of possibly wider historical occurrence. Obtaining these results with 35 samples also demonstrates the value of proper sampling from regions that have not been significantly affected by the LGM.(c) 2015 The Linnean Society of London