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Title: Population genetic structure and demographic history of the lone star tick, Amblyomma americanum (Ixodida: Ixodidae): New evidence supporting old records

Range expansions are a potential outcome of changes in habitat suitability, which commonly result as a consequence of climate change. Hypotheses on such changes in the geographic distribution of a certain species can be evaluated using population genetic structure and demography. In this study we explore the population genetic structure, genetic variability, demographic history of, and habitat suitability forAmblyomma americanum, a North American tick species that is a known vector of several pathogenic microorganisms. We used a double digestion restriction site‐associated DNA sequencing technique (dd‐RAD seq) and discovered 8,181 independent single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 189 ticks from across the geographic range of the species. Genetic diversity was low, particularly when considering the broad geographic range of this species. The edge populations were less diverse than populations belonging to the historic range, possibly indicative of a range expansion, but this hypothesis was not statistically supported by a test based on genetic data. Nonetheless, moderate levels of population structure and substructure were detected between geographic regions. For New England, demographic and species distribution models support a scenario whereA. americanumwas present in more northern locations in the past, underwent a bottleneck, and subsequently recovered. These results are consistent with a hypothesis that this species is re‐establishing in this area, rather than one focused on range expansion from the south. This hypothesis is consistent with old records describing the presence ofA. americanumin the northeastern US in the early colonial period.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Molecular Ecology
Page Range / eLocation ID:
p. 2810-2823
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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