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Quantifying the roles of ecology and geography in spatial genetic divergence

Authors


Correspondence: E-mail: ianwang@fas.harvard.edu

Abstract

Investigating the properties of ecological landscapes that influence gene flow among populations can provide key insights into the earliest stages of biological divergence. Both ecological and geographical factors can reduce gene flow, which can lead to population divergence, but we know little of the relative strengths of these phenomena in nature. Here, we use a novel application of structural equation modelling to quantify the contributions of ecological and geographical isolation to spatial genetic divergence in 17 species of Anolis lizards. Our comparative analysis shows that although both processes contributed significantly, geographical isolation explained substantially more genetic divergence than ecological isolation (36.3 vs. 17.9% of variance respectively), suggesting that despite the proposed ubiquity of ecological divergence, non-ecological factors play the dominant role in the evolution of spatial genetic divergence.

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