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This content will become publicly available on September 11, 2024

Title: Evidence of introgression, ecological divergence and adaptation in Asterias sea stars

Hybrid zones are important windows into the evolutionary dynamics of populations, revealing how processes like introgression and adaptation structure population genomic variation. Importantly, they are useful for understanding speciation and how species respond to their environments. Here, we investigate two closely related sea star species,Asterias rubensandA. forbesi, distributed along rocky European and North American coastlines of the North Atlantic, and use genome‐wide molecular markers to infer the distribution of genomic variation within and between species in this group. Using genomic data and environmental niche modelling, we document hybridization occurring between northern New England and the southern Canadian Maritimes. We investigate the factors that maintain this hybrid zone, as well as the environmental variables that putatively drive selection within and between species. We find that the two species differ in their environmental niche breadth;Asterias forbesidisplays a relatively narrow environmental niche while conversely,A. rubenshas a wider niche breadth. Species distribution models accurately predict hybrids to occur within environmental niche overlap, thereby suggesting environmental selection plays an important role in the maintenance of the hybrid zone. Our results imply that the distribution of genomic variation in North Atlantic sea stars is influenced by the environment, which will be crucial to consider as the climate changes.

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Journal Name:
Molecular Ecology
Medium: X Size: p. 5541-5557
p. 5541-5557
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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