Adaptation across environmental gradients has been demonstrated in numerous systems with extensive dispersal, despite high gene flow and consequently low genetic structure. The speed and mechanisms by which such adaptation occurs remain poorly resolved, but are critical to understanding species spread and persistence in a changing world. Here, we investigate these mechanisms in the European green crab
- NSF-PAR ID:
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- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Molecular Ecology
- Page Range / eLocation ID:
- p. 55-69
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Chapman, Mark (Ed.)Abstract Populations along steep environmental gradients are subject to differentiating selection that can result in local adaptation, despite countervailing gene flow, and genetic drift. In montane systems, where species are often restricted to narrow ranges of elevation, it is unclear whether the selection is strong enough to influence functional differentiation of subpopulations differing by a few hundred meters in elevation. We used targeted capture of 12 501 exons from across the genome, including 271 genes previously implicated in altitude adaptation, to test for adaptation to local elevations for 2 highland hummingbird species, Coeligena violifer (n = 62) and Colibri coruscans (n = 101). For each species, we described population genetic structure across the complex geography of the Peruvian Andes and, while accounting for this structure, we tested whether elevational allele frequency clines in single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) showed evidence for local adaptation to elevation. Although the 2 species exhibited contrasting population genetic structures, we found signatures of clinal genetic variation with shifts in elevation in both. The genes with SNP-elevation associations included candidate genes previously discovered for high-elevation adaptation as well as others not previously identified, with cellular functions related to hypoxia response, energy metabolism, and immune function, among others. Despite the homogenizing effects of gene flow and genetic drift, natural selection on parts of the genome evidently optimizes elevation-specific cellular function even within elevation range-restricted montane populations. Consequently, our results suggest local adaptation occurring in narrow elevation bands in tropical mountains, such as the Andes, may effectively make them “taller” biogeographic barriers.more » « less
Determining how species move across complex and fragmented landscapes and interact with human‐made barriers is a major research focus in conservation. Studies estimating functional connectivity from movement, dispersal or gene flow usually rely on a single study period and rarely consider variation over time. We contrasted genetic structure and gene flow across barriers for a metapopulation of desert bighorn sheep (
Ovis canadensis nelsoni) using genotypes collected 2000–2003 and 2013–2015. Based on the recently observed but unexpected spread of a respiratory pathogen across an interstate highway previously identified as a barrier to gene flow, we hypothesized that bighorn sheep changed how they interacted with that barrier, and that shifts in metapopulation structure influenced gene flow, genetic diversity and connectivity. Population assignment tests, genetic structure and genetic recapture demonstrated that bighorn sheep crossed the interstate highway in at least one location in 2013–2015, sharply reducing genetic structure between two populations, but supported conclusions of an earlier study that such crossings were very infrequent or unknown in 2000–2003. A recently expanded population established new links and caused decreases in genetic structure among multiple populations. Genetic diversity showed only slight increases in populations linked by new connections. Genetic structure and assignments revealed other previously undetected changes in movements and distribution, but much was consistent. Thus, we observed changes in both structural and functional connectivity over just two generations, but only in specific locations. Movement patterns of species should be revisited periodically to enable informed management, particularly in dynamic and fragmented systems.
The study of local adaptation in the presence of ongoing gene flow is the study of natural selection in action, revealing the functional genetic diversity most relevant to contemporary pressures. In addition to individual genes, genome-wide architecture can itself evolve to enable adaptation. Distributed across a steep thermal gradient along the east coast of North America, Atlantic silversides (Menidia menidia) exhibit an extraordinary degree of local adaptation in a suite of traits, and the capacity for rapid adaptation from standing genetic variation, but we know little about the patterns of genomic variation across the species range that enable this remarkable adaptability. Here, we use low-coverage, whole-transcriptome sequencing of Atlantic silversides sampled along an environmental cline to show marked signatures of divergent selection across a gradient of neutral differentiation. Atlantic silversides sampled across 1371 km of the southern section of its distribution have very low genome-wide differentiation (median FST = 0.006 across 1.9 million variants), consistent with historical connectivity and observations of recent migrants. Yet almost 14,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) are nearly fixed (FST > 0.95) for alternate alleles. Highly differentiated SNPs cluster into four tight linkage disequilibrium (LD) blocks that span hundreds of genes and several megabases. Variants in these LD blocks are disproportionately nonsynonymous and concentrated in genes enriched for multiple functions related to known adaptations in silversides, including variation in lipid storage, metabolic rate, and spawning behavior. Elevated levels of absolute divergence and demographic modeling suggest selection maintaining divergence across these blocks under gene flow. These findings represent an extreme case of heterogeneity in levels of differentiation across the genome, and highlight how gene flow shapes genomic architecture in continuous populations. Locally adapted alleles may be common features of populations distributed along environmental gradients, and will likely be key to conserving variation to enable future responses to environmental change.
Abstract Pouched lamprey (Geotria australis) or kanakana/piharau is a culturally and ecologically significant jawless fish that is distributed throughout Aotearoa New Zealand. Despite its importance, much remains unknown about historical relationships and gene flow between populations of this enigmatic species within New Zealand. To help inform management, we assembled a draft Geotria australis genome and completed the first comprehensive population genomics analysis of pouched lamprey within New Zealand using targeted gene sequencing (Cyt-b and COI) and restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RADSeq) methods. Employing 16,000 genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) derived from RADSeq (n=186) and sequence data from Cyt-b (766 bp, n=94) and COI (589 bp, n=20), we reveal low levels of structure across 10 sampling locations spanning the species range within New Zealand. F-statistics, outlier analyses, and STRUCTURE suggest a single panmictic population, and Mantel and EEMS tests reveal no significant isolation by distance. This implies either ongoing gene flow among populations or recent shared ancestry among New Zealand pouched lamprey. We can now use the information gained from these genetic tools to assist managers with monitoring effective population size, managing potential diseases, and conservation measures such as artificial propagation programs. We further demonstrate the general utility of these genetic tools for acquiring information about elusive species.more » « less
Processes that shape genomic and ecological divergence can reveal important evolutionary dynamics to inform the conservation of threatened species.
Fontaineais a genus of rainforest shrubs and small trees including critically endangered and threatened species restricted to narrow, but complex geographic and ecological regions. Several species of Fontaineaare subject to spatially explicit conditions and experience limited intra-specific gene flow, likely generating genetic differentiation and local adaptation. Objectives
Here, we explored the genetic and ecological mechanisms underlying patterns of diversification in two, closely related threatened
Fontaineaspecies. Our aim was to compare spatial patterns of genetic variation between the vulnerable Fontainea australis(Southern Fontainea) and critically endangered F. oraria(Coastal Fontainea), endemic to the heterogeneous subtropical region of central, eastern Australia, where large-scale clearing has severely reduced rainforest habitat to a fraction (< 1%) of its pre-European settlement extent. Methods
We used a set of 10,000 reduced-representation markers to infer genetic relationships and the drivers of spatial genetic variation across the two species. In addition, we employed a combination of univariate and multivariate genome-environment association analysis using a set of topo-climatic variables to explore potential patterns of local adaptation as a factor impacting genomic divergence.
Our study revealed that Coastal Fontainea have a close genetic relationship with Southern Fontainea. We showed that isolation by distance has played a key role in their genetic variation, indicating that vicariance can explain the spatial genetic distribution of the two species. Genotype-environment analyses showed a strong association with temperature and topographic features, suggesting adaptation to localised thermal environments. We used a multivariate redundancy analysis to identify a range of putatively adapted loci associated with local environmental conditions.
Divergent selection at the local-habitat scale as a result of dispersal limitations and environmental heterogeneity (including physical barriers) are likely contributors to adaptive divergence between the two
Fontaineaspecies. Our findings have presented evidence to indicate that Southern and Coastal Fontainea were comprised of distinct genetic groups and ecotypes, that together may form a single species continuum, with further phenotype research suggested to confirm the current species boundaries. Proactive conservation actions, including assisted migration to enhance the resilience of populations lacking stress-tolerant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) may be required to secure the long-term future of both taxa. This is especially vital for the critically endangered Coastal Fontainea given projections of habitat decline for the species under future climate scenarios.