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Pliocene-early Pleistocene geological events structure Pacific martens (Martes caurina)

Cite this dataset

Walters, Ashley et al. (2020). Pliocene-early Pleistocene geological events structure Pacific martens (Martes caurina) [Dataset]. Dryad.


The complex topography, climate and geological history of Western North America has shaped contemporary patterns of biodiversity and species distributions in the region. Pacific martens (Martes caurina) are distributed along the northern Pacific Coast of North America with disjunct populations found throughout the Northwestern Forested Mountains and Marine West Coast Forest ecoregions of the West Coast. Martes in this region have been classified into subspecies; however, the subspecific designation has been extensively debated. In this study, we use genomic data to delineate conservation units of Pacific marten in the Sierra-Cascade-Coastal montane belt in the Western United States. We analyzed the mitochondrial genome for 94 individuals to evaluate the spatial distribution and divergence times of major lineages. We further genotyped 401 individuals at 13 microsatellite loci to investigate major patterns of population structure. Both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA suggest substantial genetic substructure concordant with historical subspecies designations. Our results revealed that the region contains two distinct mitochondrial lineages: a Cascades/Sierra lineage that diverged from the Cascades/coastal lineage 2.23 (1.48-3.14 MYA), consistent with orogeny of the Cascade Mountain chain. Interestingly, Pacific Martes share phylogeographic patterns similar with other sympatric taxa, suggesting the complex geological history has shaped the biota of this region. The information is critical for conservation and management efforts and further investigation of adaptive diversity is warranted following appropriate revision of conservation management designations.