We have assessed the variability of maternally (mtDNA) and biparentally (allozymes) inherited genes of 443 chamois (Rupicapra r. rupicapra) from 19 regional samples in the Eastern Alps, to estimate the degree and patterns of spatial gene pool differentiation, and their possible causes. Based on a total mtDNA-RFLP approach with 16 hexanucleotide-recognizing restriction endonucleases, we found marked substructuring of the maternal gene pool into four phylogeographic groups. A hierarchical AMOVA revealed that 67.09% of the variance was partitioned among these four mtDNA-phylogroups, whereas only 8.04% were because of partitioning among regional samples within the populations, and 24.86% due to partitioning among individuals within regional samples. We interpreted this spatial pattern of mtDNA variability as a result of immigration of chamois from different Pleistocene refugia surrounding the Alps after the withdrawal of glaciers, rather than from topographic barriers to gene flow, such as Alpine valleys, extended glaciers or woodlands. However, this striking geographical structuring of the maternal genome was not paralleled by allelic variation at 33 allozyme loci, which were used as nuclear DNA markers. Wright"s hierarchical F-statistics revealed that only < or =0.45% of the explained allozymic diversity was because of partitioning among the four mtDNA-phylogroups. We conclude that this discordance of spatial patterns of nuclear and mtDNA gene pools results from a phylogeographic background and sex-specific dispersal, with higher levels of philopatry in females.
Animals Cell Nucleus/genetics* DNA Restriction Enzymes DNA, Mitochondrial* Demography* Europe Gene Frequency Gene Pool* Genetic Variation* Genetics, Population Goats/genetics* Haplotypes Isoenzymes/genetics* Phylogeny Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length