Overarching trends can be seen in European mammalian phylogeography, yet it is clear that species responded differently depending on adaptations to past environments. We built upon previous work on the phylogeography of weasels (Mustela nivalis) in Europe by using well-preserved museum specimens from a proposed phylogeographic suture zone. The complete cytochrome b gene was amplified from 49 individuals from present-day Poland and analyzed with previously published data on a European scale to identify glacial refugia and infer recolonization processes. Bayesian coalescent analysis revealed the importance of the Last Glacial Maximum and the Younger Dryas in the diversification of, and demographic changes in, identified mitochondrial lineages. Our analysis, in conjunction with the available fossil data, strongly points to a Carpathian origin for one of the lineages, and further highlights the importance of this region as a refugium for European mammals. Mustela nivalis originating from this refugium appear to have a selective advantage over M. nivalis from other lineages in certain environments in the suture zone in central Europe, with climate clearly influencing the distribution of mitochondrial DNA lineages. This has important implications not only for our understanding of how past climatic events shaped the genetic architecture of species, but also how they will respond to current and future climatic changes.
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