Species often experience spatial environmental heterogeneity across their range, and populations may exhibit signatures of adaptation to local environmental characteristics. Other population genetic processes, such as migration and genetic drift, can impede the effects of local adaptation. Genetic drift in particular can have a pronounced effect on population genetic structure during large‐scale geographic expansions, where a series of founder effects leads to decreases in genetic variation in the direction of the expansion. Here, we explore the genetic diversity of a desert lizard that occupies a wide range of environmental conditions and that has experienced post‐glacial expansion northwards along two colonization routes. Based on our analyses of a large SNP data set, we find evidence that both climate and demographic history have shaped the genetic structure of populations. Pronounced genetic differentiation was evident between populations occupying cold versus hot deserts, and we detected numerous loci with significant associations with climate. The genetic signal of founder effects, however, is still present in the genomes of the recently expanded populations, which comprise subsets of genetic variation found in the southern populations.
Population dynamics within species at the edge of their distributional range, including the formation of genetic structure during range expansion, are difficult to study when they have had limited time to evolve. Western Fence Lizards (
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- Scientific Reports
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