Environmental heterogeneity and not vicariant biogeographic barriers generate community-wide population structure in desert-adapted snakes

Edward A. Myers, Alexander T. Xue, Marcelo Gehara, Christian L. Cox, Alison R. Davis Rabosky, Julio Lemos-Espinal, Juan E. Martínez-Gómez, Frank T. Burbrink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations

Abstract

Genetic structure can be influenced by local adaptation to environmental heterogeneity and biogeographic barriers, resulting in discrete population clusters. Geographic distance among populations, however, can result in continuous clines of genetic divergence that appear as structured populations. Here, we evaluate the relevant importance of these three factors over a landscape characterized by environmental heterogeneity and the presence of a hypothesized biogeographic barrier in producing population genetic structure within 13 codistributed snake species using a genomic data set. We demonstrate that geographic distance and environmental heterogeneity across western North America contribute to population genomic divergence. Surprisingly, landscape features long thought to contribute to biogeographic barriers play little role in divergence community wide. Our results suggest that isolation by environment is the most important contributor to genomic divergence. Furthermore, we show that models of population clustering that incorporate spatial information consistently outperform nonspatial models, demonstrating the importance of considering geographic distances in population clustering. We argue that environmental and geographic distances as drivers of community-wide divergence should be explored before assuming the role of biogeographic barriers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4535-4548
Number of pages14
JournalMolecular Ecology
Volume28
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics

Keywords

  • biogeographic barriers
  • community ecology
  • comparative phylogeography
  • gene flow
  • generalized dissimilarity modelling
  • population structure

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