Oct 23, 2016

Past climate changes, population dynamics and the origin of Bison in Europe

BMC Biology
Diyendo MassilaniEva-Maria Geigl

Abstract

Climatic and environmental fluctuations as well as anthropogenic pressure have led to the extinction of much of Europe's megafauna. The European bison or wisent (Bison bonasus), one of the last wild European large mammals, narrowly escaped extinction at the onset of the 20th century owing to hunting and habitat fragmentation. Little is known, however, about its origin, evolutionary history and population dynamics during the Pleistocene. Through ancient DNA analysis we show that the emblematic European bison has experienced several waves of population expansion, contraction, and extinction during the last 50,000 years in Europe, culminating in a major reduction of genetic diversity during the Holocene. Fifty-seven complete and partial ancient mitogenomes from throughout Europe, the Caucasus, and Siberia reveal that three populations of wisent (Bison bonasus) and steppe bison (B. priscus) alternately occupied Western Europe, correlating with climate-induced environmental changes. The Late Pleistocene European steppe bison originated from northern Eurasia, whereas the modern wisent population emerged from a refuge in the southern Caucasus after the last glacial maximum. A population overlap during a transition period is reflected ...Continue Reading

  • References34
  • Citations13

References

  • References34
  • Citations13

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