A 587 bp fragment of cytochrome b sequences from 90 individuals of 15 hare (Lepus) species and two outgroups were phylogenetically analysed and compared to an analysis derived from 474 bp sequences of the nuclear transferrin gene. Mountain hare (Lepus timidus) type mtDNA was observed in L. granatensis and L. europaeus from the Iberian Peninsula, far away from the extant distributional range of L. timidus. In addition to these two hare species, other hare species may also contain mtDNA from L. timidus. This species may have introgressed with other species of Lepus that occur within its present range, or where fossils indicate its historical presence during glacial periods. L. timidus mtDNA is common in the northern part of the L. granatensis range. Finally, we reassessed the phylogenetic relationships of the five European hare species based on both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences.
Copyright 2002 Elsevier Science (USA)