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Historical biogeography of the leopard (Panthera pardus) and its extinct Eurasian populations

  • Background Resolving the historical biogeography of the leopard (Panthera pardus) is a complex issue, because patterns inferred from fossils and from molecular data lack congruence. Fossil evidence supports an African origin, and suggests that leopards were already present in Eurasia during the Early Pleistocene. Analysis of DNA sequences however, suggests a more recent, Middle Pleistocene shared ancestry of Asian and African leopards. These contrasting patterns led researchers to propose a two-stage hypothesis of leopard dispersal out of Africa: an initial Early Pleistocene colonisation of Asia and a subsequent replacement by a second colonisation wave during the Middle Pleistocene. The status of Late Pleistocene European leopards within this scenario is unclear: were these populations remnants of the first dispersal, or do the last surviving European leopards share more recent ancestry with their African counterparts? Results In this study, we generate and analyse mitogenome sequences from historical samples that span theBackground Resolving the historical biogeography of the leopard (Panthera pardus) is a complex issue, because patterns inferred from fossils and from molecular data lack congruence. Fossil evidence supports an African origin, and suggests that leopards were already present in Eurasia during the Early Pleistocene. Analysis of DNA sequences however, suggests a more recent, Middle Pleistocene shared ancestry of Asian and African leopards. These contrasting patterns led researchers to propose a two-stage hypothesis of leopard dispersal out of Africa: an initial Early Pleistocene colonisation of Asia and a subsequent replacement by a second colonisation wave during the Middle Pleistocene. The status of Late Pleistocene European leopards within this scenario is unclear: were these populations remnants of the first dispersal, or do the last surviving European leopards share more recent ancestry with their African counterparts? Results In this study, we generate and analyse mitogenome sequences from historical samples that span the entire modern leopard distribution, as well as from Late Pleistocene remains. We find a deep bifurcation between African and Eurasian mitochondrial lineages (~ 710 Ka), with the European ancient samples as sister to all Asian lineages (~ 483 Ka). The modern and historical mainland Asian lineages share a relatively recent common ancestor (~ 122 Ka), and we find one Javan sample nested within these. Conclusions The phylogenetic placement of the ancient European leopard as sister group to Asian leopards suggests that these populations originate from the same out-of-Africa dispersal which founded the Asian lineages. The coalescence time found for the mitochondrial lineages aligns well with the earliest undisputed fossils in Eurasia, and thus encourages a re-evaluation of the identification of the much older putative leopard fossils from the region. The relatively recent ancestry of all mainland Asian leopard lineages suggests that these populations underwent a severe population bottleneck during the Pleistocene. Finally, although only based on a single sample, the unexpected phylogenetic placement of the Javan leopard could be interpreted as evidence for exchange of mitochondrial lineages between Java and mainland Asia, calling for further investigation into the evolutionary history of this subspecies.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author:Johanna L. A. PaijmansORCiDGND, Axel BarlowORCiD, Daniel W. Förster, Kirstin Henneberger, Matthias Meyer, Birgit Nickel, Doris Nagel, Rasmus Worsøe Havmøller, Gennady F. Baryshnikov, Ulrich Joger, Wilfried Rosendahl, Michael HofreiterORCiDGND
DOI:https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-018-1268-0
ISSN:1471-2148
Parent Title (English):BMC Evolutionary Biology
Publisher:BioMed Central und Springer
Place of publication:London, Berlin und Heidelberg
Document Type:Article
Language:English
Date of first Publication:2018/10/23
Year of Completion:2018
Release Date:2019/01/10
Tag:Ancient DNA; Hybridisation capture; Leopards; Mitochondrial genomes; Mitogenomes; Palaeogenetics; Panthera pardus; mtDNA
Volume:18
Issue:156
Pagenumber:12
Funder:Universität Potsdam
Grant Number:PA 2018_58
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Dewey Decimal Classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
6 Technik, Medizin, angewandte Wissenschaften / 61 Medizin und Gesundheit / 610 Medizin und Gesundheit
Peer Review:Referiert
Grantor:Publikationsfonds der Universität Potsdam
Publication Way:Open Access
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung, 4.0 International
Notes extern:Zweitveröffentlichung in der Schriftenreihe Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Reihe ; 505