Yumnam, Bibek, Negi, Tripti, Maldonado, Jesús E., Fleischer, Robert C., and Jhala, Yadvendradev V. 2015. "Phylogeography of the Golden Jackal (Canis aureus) in India." PloS One 10 (9):1-18. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0138497
The golden jackal (Canis aureus) is one of the most common and widely distributed carnivores in India but phylogeographic studies on the species have been limited across its range. Recent studies have observed absence of mitochondrial (mt) DNA diversity in European populations while some North African populations of golden jackal were found to carry gray wolf (Canis lupus lupaster) mtDNA lineages. In the present study, we sequenced 440 basepairs (bp) of control region (CR) and 412 bp of cytochrome b (cyt b) gene of mtDNA from 62 golden jackals sampled from India (n = 55), Israel (n = 2) and Bulgaria (n = 5), to obtain a total of eighteen haplotypes, comprising sixteen from India and one each from Israel and Bulgaria. Except for three previously described haplotypes represented by one cyt b and one CR haplotype both from India, and one CR haplotype from Bulgaria, all haplotypes identified in this study are new. Genetic diversity was high in golden jackals compared to that reported for other canids in India. Unlike the paraphyletic status of African conspecifics with the gray wolf, the Indian (and other Eurasian) golden jackal clustered in a distinct but shallow monophyletic clade, displaying no evidence of admixture with sympatric and related gray wolf and domestic dog clades in the region. Phylogeographic analyses indicated no clear pattern of genetic structuring of the golden jackal haplotypes and the median joining network revealed a star-shaped polytomy indicative of recent expansion of the species from India. Indian haplotypes were observed to be interior and thus ancestral compared to haplotypes from Europe and Israel, which were peripheral and hence more derived. Molecular tests for demographic expansion confirmed a recent event of expansion of golden jackals in the Indian subcontinent, which can be traced back ~ 37,000 years ago during the late Pleistocene. Our results suggest that golden jackals have had a potentially longer evolutionary history in India than in other parts of the world, although further sampling from Africa, the Middle East and south-east Asia is needed to test this hypothesis.