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Aim: A conspicuous climatic and biogeographical transition occurs at 40?45� N in western North America. This pivot point marks a north?south opposition of wet and dry conditions at interannual and decadal time-scales, as well as the northern and southern limits of many dominant western plant species. Palaeoecologists have yet to focus on past climatic and biotic shifts along this transition, in part because it requires comparisons across dissimilar records [i.e. pollen from lacustrine sediments to the north and plant macrofossils from woodrat (Neotoma) middens to the south]. To overcome these limitations, we are extending the woodrat-midden record northward into the lowlands of the central Rocky Mountains. Published...
Springsnails of the genus Pyrgulopsis are the most diverse group of freshwater gastropods in North America and current estimates show that Pyrgulopsis contains ~120 different species, many of which are at risk of extinction. Some factors contributing to their exceptional diversity include poor dispersal ability and extreme habitat specificity based on water availability, chemistry and depth. Most taxa exhibit high degrees of endemism, with many species occurring only in a single spring or seep, making springsnails ideal for studies of speciation and population structure. Here I present data from a survey of genetic variation at the mitochondrial gene cytochrome oxidase I from 37 populations and over 1000 individuals...
Mitochondrial DNA control region sequences of spotted owls (Strix occidentalis) allowed us to investigate gene flow, genetic structure, and biogeographic relationships among these forest-dwelling birds of western North America. Estimates of gene flow based on genetic partitioning and the phylogeography of haplotypes indicate substantial dispersal within three long-recognized subspecies. However, patterns of individual phyletic relationships indicate a historical absence of gene flow among the subspecies, which are essentially monophyletic. The pattern of haplotype coalescence enabled us to identify the approximate timing and direction of a recent episode of gene flow from the Sierra Nevada to the northern coastal...
Populations of the freshwater mussel genus Anodonta appear to be in a state of rapid decline in western North America, following a trend that unfortunately seems to be prevalent among these animals (Mollusca: Unionoida). Here we describe the patterns of molecular divergence and diversity among Anodonta populations in the Bonneville Basin, a large sub-basin of the Great Basin in western North America. Using amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP) analysis, we found a striking lack of nuclear diversity within some of these populations, along with a high degree of structuring among populations (FST = 0.61), suggesting post-Pleistocene isolation, due either to a long-term loss of hydrologic connectivity among...
The desert pocket mouse (Chaetodipus penicillatus) comprises 6 nominate subspecies that occupy warm, sandy desert-scrub habitats across the Mojave and Sonoran deserts. The most thorough morphological assessment within the species noted variable levels of distinctiveness, leading to uncertainty regarding the geographic distributions of subspecies. Subsequent genetic assessments using chromosomal, allozymic, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence data detected a general east?west divergence centered on the Colorado River, but few locations were included in these assessments. We investigated phylogeographic structure in C. penicillatus by sequencing regions of mtDNA for 220 individuals from 51 locations representing...
Aim: A conspicuous climatic and biogeographical transition occurs at 40–45° N in western North America. This pivot point marks a north–south opposition of wet and dry conditions at interannual and decadal time-scales, as well as the northern and southern limits of many dominant western plant species. Palaeoecologists have yet to focus on past climatic and biotic shifts along this transition, in part because it requires comparisons across dissimilar records [i.e. pollen from lacustrine sediments to the north and plant macrofossils from woodrat (Neotoma) middens to the south]. To overcome these limitations, we are extending the woodrat-midden record northward into the lowlands of the central Rocky Mountains.