J Syst Evol ›› 2010, Vol. 48 ›› Issue (6): 490-496.DOI: 10.1111/j.1759-6831.2010.00095.x

• Research Articles • Previous Articles    

Demographic history of the Tibetan antelope Pantholops hodgsoni (chiru)

1,2,3Yu‐Rong DU§ 1Song‐Chang GUO§ 4Zhao‐Feng WANG 1Hai‐Xing CI 1Zhen‐Yuan CAI 4Qian ZHANG 1Jian‐Ping SU* 4Jian‐Quan LIU*   

  1. 1(Key Laboratory of Evolution and Adaptation of Plateau Biota, Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining 810001, China)
    2(Graduate University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100049, China)
    3(School of Life and Geography Science, Qinghai Normal University, Xining 810008, China)
    4(Key Laboratory of Arid and Grassland Ecology, School of Life Science, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou 730000, China)
  • Received:2010-04-25 Published:2010-11-18

Abstract: The Tibetan antelope (chiru, Pantholops hodgsoni), a heavily poached species and symbol of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (QTP), is noted worldwide for its special calving migration. This species originated in the early Quaternary and it is interesting to know how the following climatic oscillations affected its demographic dynamics in the climate-sensitive QTP. In this study, we analyzed the mitochondrial D-loop region from 312 individuals sampled in all of the six major populations. We found high rates of gene flow and little genetic differentiation between populations, suggesting that the calving migration may have homogenized the genetic pool of this species. Both mismatch distribution analyses and coalescent simulations suggested that this species experienced a demographic expansion approximately 600–200 Kyr following the retreat of the large glaciers developed in the QTP at 800–600 Kyr, rather than at the end of the last glacial age, as previously suggested, based on a limited sample size. In addition, we found evidence of a chiru population decrease probably related to the human settings at the QTP during the middle Holocene.

Key words: chiru, calving migration, demographic expansion, mitochondrial D-loop, Quaternary.