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Title: Repeated patterns of reptile diversification in Western North America supported by the Northern Alligator Lizard ( Elgaria coerulea )

Understanding the processes that shape genetic diversity by either promoting or preventing population divergence can help identify geographic areas that either facilitate or limit gene flow. Furthermore, broadly distributed species allow us to understand how biogeographic and ecogeographic transitions affect gene flow. We investigated these processes using genomic data in the Northern Alligator Lizard (Elgaria coerulea), which is widely distributed in Western North America across diverse ecoregions (California Floristic Province and Pacific Northwest) and mountain ranges (Sierra Nevada, Coastal Ranges, and Cascades). We collected single-nucleotide polymorphism data from 120 samples of E. coerulea. Biogeographic analyses of squamate reptiles with similar distributions have identified several shared diversification patterns that provide testable predictions for E. coerulea, including deep genetic divisions in the Sierra Nevada, demographic stability of southern populations, and recent post-Pleistocene expansion into the Pacific Northwest. We use genomic data to test these predictions by estimating the structure, connectivity, and phylogenetic history of populations. At least 10 distinct populations are supported, with mixed-ancestry individuals situated at most population boundaries. A species tree analysis provides strong support for the early divergence of populations in the Sierra Nevada Mountains and recent diversification into the Pacific Northwest. Admixture and migration analyses detect gene flow among populations in the Lower Cascades and Northern California, and a spatial analysis of gene flow identified significant barriers to gene flow across both the Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges. The distribution of genetic diversity in E. coerulea is uneven, patchy, and interconnected at population boundaries. The biogeographic patterns seen in E. coerulea are consistent with predictions from co-distributed species.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Oxford University Press
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Journal of Heredity
Medium: X Size: p. 57-71
p. 57-71
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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