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Title: The influence of history, geography and environment on patterns of diversification in the western terrestrial garter snake
Abstract Aim

A central aim of biogeography is to understand how biodiversity is generated and maintained across landscapes. Here, we establish phylogenetic and population genetic patterns in a widespread reptile to quantify the influence of historical biogeography and current environmental variation on patterns of genetic diversity.


Western North America.


Western terrestrial garter snake,Thamnophis elegans.


We used double‐digest RADseq to estimate phylogenetic relationships and characterize population genetic structure across the three widespread subspecies ofTelegans:T. e. vagrans(wandering garter snake),Teelegans(mountain garter snake) andTeterrestris(coast garter snake). We assessed patterns of dispersal and vicariance across biogeographic regions using ancestral area reconstruction (AAR) and deviations from isolation‐by‐distance across the landscape using estimated effective migration surfaces (EEMS). We identified environmental variables potentially shaping local adaptation in regional lineages using genetic‐environment association (GEA) analyses.


We recovered three well‐differentiated genetic groups that correspond to the three subspecies. AAR analyses inferred the eastern Cascade Range as the ancestral area, with dispersal to both the east and west across western North America. Populations ofT. e. elegansdisplayed a latitudinal gradient in genetic variation across the Sierra Nevada and northern California, while populations ofTeterrestrisshow discrete genetic breaks consistent with well‐known biogeographic barriers. Lastly, GEA analyses identified allele frequency shifts at loci associated with a common set of environmental variables in bothTeelegansandTeterrestris.

Main Conclusion

T. elegansis composed of distinct evolutionary lineages, each with its own geographic range and history of diversification.TeelegansandTeterrestrisshow unique patterns of diversification as populations dispersed from east to west and while adapting to the new environments they colonized. Historical events, landscape features and environmental variation have all contributed to patterns of differentiation inTelegans.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Biogeography
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 2226-2245
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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