Ho, S. Y. W., Larson, G., Edwards, Ceiridwen J., Heupink, T. H., Lakin, K. E., Holland, P. W. H. and Shapiro, Beth (2008) Correlating Bayesian date estimates with climatic events and domestication using a bovine case study. Biology Letters, 4 (4). pp. 370-374. ISSN 1744-9561

The tribe Bovini contains a number of commercially and culturally important species, such as cattle. Understanding their evolutionary time scale is important for distinguishing between post-glacial and domestication-associated population expansions, but estimates of bovine divergence times have been hindered by a lack of reliable calibration points. We present a Bayesian phylogenetic analysis of 481 mitochondrial D-loop sequences, including 228 radiocarbon-dated ancient DNA sequences, using a multi-demographic coalescent model. By employing the radiocarbon dates as internal calibrations, we co-estimate the bovine phylogeny and divergence times in a relaxed-clock framework. The analysis yields evidence for significant population expansions in both taurine and zebu cattle, European aurochs and yak clades. The divergence age estimates support domestication-associated expansion times (less than 12 kyr) for the major haplogroups of cattle. We compare the molecular and palaeontological estimates for the Bison–Bos divergence.