Journal article

Late-Quaternary biogeographic scenarios for the brown bear (Ursus arctos), a wild mammal model species

John Davison, Simon YW Ho, Sarah C Bray, Marju Korsten, Egle Tammeleht, Maris Hindrikson, Kjartan Ostbye, Eivind Ostbye, Stein-Erik Lauritzen, Jeremy Austin, Alan Cooper, Urmas Saarma



This review provides an up-to-date synthesis of the matrilineal phylogeography of a uniquely well-studied Holarctic mammal, the brown bear. We extend current knowledge by presenting a DNA sequence derived from one of the earliest known fossils of a polar bear (dated to 115 000 years before present), a species that shares a paraphyletic mitochondrial association with brown bears. A molecular clock analysis of 140 mitochondrial DNA sequences, including our new polar bear sequence, provides novel insights into the times of origin for different brown bear clades. We propose a number of regional biogeographic scenarios based on genetic data, divergence time estimates and paleontological records. ..

View full abstract


Awarded by Estonian Ministry of Education and Sciences

Awarded by Estonian Science Foundation

Funding Acknowledgements

We thank Dr G. Baryshnikov for his advice concerning interpretation of paleontological evidence. This work was supported by grants from the Estonian Ministry of Education and Sciences (target financing project SF0180122s08), the Estonian Science Foundation (grants 7040 and GLOOM0058J) and from the European Union through the European Regional Development Fund (Centre of Excellence FIBIR). SYWH was supported by the Australian Research Council.