• Gene genealogy;
  • metapopulation;
  • patrilocality;
  • spatial simulation;
  • West New Guinea


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y chromosome (NRY) genetic markers have been often contrasted to investigate sex-specific dynamics. Traditionally, isolation by distance, intrapopulation genetic diversity and population differentiation are estimated from both markers and compared. Two possible sources of bias are often neglected. First, kilometric distances are frequently used as predictor of the connectivity between groups, hiding the role played by environmental features at a microgeographic scale. Second, the comparison of intrapopulation diversity and population differentiation between mtDNA and NRY is hampered by their different mutational mechanisms and rates. Here, we show how to account for these biases by analyzing from a different perspective a published dataset of eight West New Guinea (WNG) populations for which mtDNA control region sequences and seven linked NRY microsatellites had been typed. First, we modeled the connectivity among sampled populations by computing the number of days required to travel between groups. Then, we investigated the differences between the two sexes accounting for the molecular characteristics of the markers examined to obtain estimates on the product of the effective population size and the migration rate among demes (Nm). We achieved this goal by studying the shape of the gene genealogy at several sampling levels and using spatial explicit simulations. Both the direction and the rate of migration differ between male and females, with an Nm estimated to be >6 times higher in the latter under many evolutionary scenarios. We finally highlight the importance of applying metapopulation models when analyzing the genetic diversity of a species.