Edwards, Ceiridwen J., Ho, Simon Y.W., Barnett, Ross, Coxon, Peter, Bradley, Daniel G., Lord, Tom C. and O'Connor, Terry (2014) Continuity of brown bear maternal lineages in northern England through the Last-glacial period. Quaternary Science Reviews, 96. pp. 131-139. ISSN 0277-3791

Brown bears recolonised Europe rapidly after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), but there has been debate about whether bear populations were confined to separate glacial refugia in southern Europe, or if there was continuous gene flow among groups. To look in more detail at recolonisation routes into the British Isles after the LGM, 16 brown bear (Ursus arctos) samples from Lateglacial Yorkshire were analysed for mitochondrial DNA survival. The resulting data were compared with earlier work on Late Pleistocene and Holocene bears from Ireland (Edwards et al., 2011), as well as with both modern and ancient bears from across continental Europe.

The results highlight the temporal and spatial continuity of brown bear maternal lineages through the Lateglacial period in northern England. While this region was not a refugial area in the LGM for the Irish Clade 2 brown bears, our data suggest that populations of brown bear in England did act as refugial sources for the later colonisation of Ireland, by Clade 1-i bears, during the Holocene. Our results contribute to a wider understanding of the phylogenetic relationships of brown bears through the Late Quaternary, and lend a valuable perspective on bear migration into peripheral Europe.

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