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Title: Amazonian birds in more dynamic habitats have less population genetic structure and higher gene flow

Understanding the factors that govern variation in genetic structure across species is key to the study of speciation and population genetics. Genetic structure has been linked to several aspects of life history, such as foraging strategy, habitat association, migration distance, and dispersal ability, all of which might influence dispersal and gene flow. Comparative studies of population genetic data from species with differing life histories provide opportunities to tease apart the role of dispersal in shaping gene flow and population genetic structure. Here, we examine population genetic data from sets of bird species specialized on a series of Amazonian habitat types hypothesized to filter for species with dramatically different dispersal abilities: stable upland forest, dynamic floodplain forest, and highly dynamic riverine islands. Using genome‐wide markers, we show that habitat type has a significant effect on population genetic structure, with species in upland forest, floodplain forest, and riverine islands exhibiting progressively lower levels of structure. Although morphological traits used as proxies for individual‐level dispersal ability did not explain this pattern, population genetic measures of gene flow are elevated in species from more dynamic riverine habitats. Our results suggest that the habitat in which a species occurs drives the degree of population genetic structuring via its impact on long‐term fluctuations in levels of gene flow, with species in highly dynamic habitats having particularly elevated gene flow. These differences in genetic variation across taxa specialized in distinct habitats may lead to disparate responses to environmental change or habitat‐specific diversification dynamics over evolutionary time scales.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Date Published:
Journal Name:
Molecular Ecology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 2186-2205
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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