The phylogeographical patterns and population genetic structures of Varicorhinus barbatulus in Taiwan were investigated based on genetic diversity of 34 allozyme loci and nucleotide sequences of 3′ end of the cytochrome b gene, tRNA genes, D-loop control region, and the 5′ end of the 12S rRNA of mtDNA. Allozyme and mtDNA analyses revealing evident geographical structuring suggest limited gene flow between populations (FST = 0.511 and 0.791, respectively). Low genetic variability within populations (P = 5.56%; He = 0.018) based on allozymes and significantly negative Tajima's D statistics based on mtDNA suggest that most populations in Taiwan may have originated from a small number of founders followed by demographic expansion. The gene genealogy of mtDNA identified six lineages corresponding to major drainages that were separated by the geological barriers due to vicariant events. A minimum spanning network based on nucleotide substitutions reflects divergence from populations of the Miaoli Plateau to northern and southern regions of the island. In contrast to a previous hypothesis that suggests an early invasion to eastern part of Taiwan prior to the lifting of central mountain range some one million years ago, the mtDNA genealogy and molecular dating reveal very recent colonization of the eastern population. Nested clade analyses revealing significant associations between genetic structure and geographical division identify past fragmentation and range expansion as major phylogeographical events that shaped the geographical distribution of this species in Taiwan.
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