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Out of Africa: demographic and colonization history of the Algerian mouse (Mus spretus Lataste)

Heredityvolume 122pages150171 (2019) | Download Citation


North Africa is now recognized as a major area for the emergence and dispersal of anatomically modern humans from at least 315 kya. The Mediterranean Basin is thus particularly suited to study the role of climate versus human-mediated changes on the evolutionary history of species. The Algerian mouse (Mus spretus Lataste) is an endemic species from this basin, with its distribution restricted to North Africa (from Libya to Morocco), Iberian Peninsula and South of France. A rich paleontological record of M. spretus exists in North Africa, suggesting hypotheses concerning colonization pathways, and the demographic and morphologic history of this species. Here we combined genetic (3 mitochondrial DNA loci and 18 microsatellites) and climatic niche modeling data to infer the evolutionary history of the Algerian mouse. We collected 646 new individuals in 51 localities. Our results are consistent with an anthropogenic translocation of the Algerian mouse from North Africa to the Iberian Peninsula via Neolithic navigators, probably from the Tingitane Peninsula. Once arrived in Spain, suitable climatic conditions would then have favored the dispersion of the Algerian mice to France. The morphological differentiation observed between Spanish, French and North African populations could be explained by a founder effect and possibly local adaptation. This article helps to better understand the role of climate versus human-mediated changes on the evolutionary history of mammal species in the Mediterranean Basin.

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The present study was supported by ANR 6eme extinction ANR-09-PEXT-004 MOHMIE “Modern Human installation in Morocco, Influence on the small terrestrial vertebrate biodiversity and Evolution” and the project CMEP TASSILI MDU 09MDU755. Fieldwork was made possible through collaboration with the “Institut Scientifique de Rabat” (A. El Hassani, M. Fekhaoui), the University of Tetouan (Department of Biology), and the “Haut Commissariat aux Eaux et Forêts et Lutte contre la Désertification”. We are grateful to all collectors, particularly Abderrahmane Mataame, Hicham El Brini, Arnaud Delapré, Sohaib Liefried Loubna Tifarouine, Adel Hamani, Lylia Amrouche Larabi and Yolanda Fernandez-Jalvo. Molecular analyses were financially supported by the “ATM MNHN: Taxonomie moléculaire, DNA Barcode & Gestion Durable des Collections”, the “Service de Systématique Moléculaire” of the MNHN (UMS 2700, Paris, France), particularly Josie Lambourdière for her help in the microsatellites analysis, and the network “Bibliothèque du Vivant” funded by the CNRS, MNHN, INRA and CEA (Genoscope). We thank the Genotoul bioinformatics platform Toulouse Midi-Pyrenees (Bioinfo Genotoul) for providing computing resources. We are grateful to three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier version of this paper.

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  1. Institut de Systématique, Evolution, Biodiversité, ISYEB - UMR 7205 - CNRS, MNHN, UPMC, EPHE, Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France

    • Aude Lalis
    • , Stefano Mona
    • , Christiane Denys
    •  & Violaine Nicolas
  2. EPHE, PSL Research University, Paris, France

    • Stefano Mona
  3. Histoire Naturelle de l’Homme Préhistorique, HNHP—UMR 7194—CNRS, MNHN, UPVD, Sorbonne Universités, Paris, France

    • Emmanuelle Stoetzel
  4. Institut des Sciences de l’Evolution, ISEM—UMR 4554, CNRS, IRD, EPHE, Université de Montpellier, Montpellier, France

    • François Bonhomme
  5. Department of Agronomy, Faculty of Natural Science and Life, University Ziane Achour, Djelfa, Algeria

    • Karim Souttou
  6. Laboratoire de Biologie et Santé, Faculté des Sciences, Université Abdelmalek Essâadi, Tétouan, Morocco

    • Ali Ouarour
  7. Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique, UR35 Comportement et Ecologie de la Faune Sauvage, Caytanet-Tolosan, France

    • Stéphane Aulagnier


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