Our objectives were ï»¿
to refine the phylogeographic assessment within South America and to investigate the demographic history of pumas using a coalescent approach. Our results extend previous phylogeographic findings, reassessing the delimitation of historical population units in South America and demonstrating that this species experienced a considerable demographic expansion in the Holocene, ca. 8,000 years ago. Our analyses indicate that this expansion occurred in South America.
Females tend to occupy smaller areas and disperse shorter distances, thus being more philopatric than males ( Logan and Sweanor, 2001 ; Maehr et al. , 2002 ). Overall, the species' ecological flexibility and dispersal capabilities have the potential to induce broad genetic connectivity across large geographic areas,
unless historical barriers have limited gene flow among populations.Fossil evidence indicates that pumas were already present in North America 0.4 million years ago (MYA) ( Kurtén and Anderson, 1980 ).
In parallel, molecular data ( Johnson et al.
, 2006 ) have led to an estimate of its divergence from the sister-species P. yagouaroundi of 4.17 MYA (C.I.: 3.16 6.01MYA), suggesting a much longer history as a distinct evolutionary lineage. The speciation event that separated these lineages may have occurred in North or South America, with the molecular dating estimate supporting the former, as it tends to predate the Great American Biotic Interchange (GABI) (ca. 2.5 3.5 MYA).
However, since the credibility interval of
this estimate slightly overlaps the timing of the GABI, this issue is still not fully settled. Interestingly, Barnett et al. (2005) provided molecular evidence indicating that the extinct North American felid Miracinonyx trumani is the puma's closest relative, with a divergence time estimated at 3.19 MYA. This finding would support the hypothesis of a North American origin for the puma, with subsequent colonization of South America by this species.
In the present study we employ this longer ND5 segment to investigate the evolutionary history of P. concolor , with emphasis on South American populations, which were previously found to harbor high levels of diversity and inferred to have played a key role in the historical demography of this species ( Culver et al. , 2000 ).
puma fenty slides
Given that the geographic sampling of South American pumas was limited in that first study, we aimed here to expand the representation of the various regions of this sub-continent.
We explored two outgroup options for rooting the network, one with the P. yagouaroundi sequences generated here, and the other employing M. trumani sequences ( Barnett et al. , 2005 ).AMOVAs were performed using ¦ st computed from a pairwise matrix based on p -distances. Statistical significance of ¦ st values was tested using 10,000 permutations. scenarios attempting to identify the best
possible way to represent historical population structure in this species.