Published: Volume 60(1), June 2013. Pages 123-132.
boreal taxa can be found in southern latitudes in fragments of high altitude
alpine habitat. Some of these taxa have remained isolated from the main
populations in northern latitudes as a result of the distribution changes
during the last glaciations, being known as glacial relict populations. Such
relict populations have often differentiated from the main population as a
result of isolation and genetic drift. The Tengmalm’s owl Aegolius funereus is a widespread boreal forest species distributed
throughout boreal Eurasia and North America. The westernmost Eurasian breeding
population is located in the Pyrenees Mountains, and was discovered less than
50 years ago. We studied the genetic structure of this Pyrenean population of
Tengmalm’s owl, and compared it with a northern latitude population from
Fennoscandia. Despite being isolated by several hundred kilometres from the
closest breeding grounds, we found no differences in the genetic structure of
the mitochondrial DNA when compared with the central population. Our results
suggest that this population has been, or still is connected with the main population.