Microevolution of sympatry: landscape genetics of hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus and E. roumanicus in Central Europe
We used the mitochondrial control region and nuclear microsatellites to assess the distribution patterns, population structure, demography and landscape genetics for the hedgehogs Erinaceus europaeus and Erinaceus roumanicus in a transect of the mid-European zone of sympatry. E. roumanicus was less frequent and restricted to regions with lower altitudes. Demographic analyses suggested recent population growth in this species. A comparison of patterns in the spatial variability of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA indicated less sex-biased dispersal and higher levels of gene flow in E. roumanicus. No evidence of recent hybridisation or introgression was detected. We interpreted these results by comparing with phylogeographic and palaeontological studies as well as with the occurrence of hybridisation in the Russian contact zone. We propose that Central Europe was colonised by E. roumanicus by the beginning of the Neolithic period and that there was a subsequent reinforcement stage as well as the formation of a zone of sympatry after the complete reproductive isolation of both species.