Dispersal differences predict population genetic structure in Mormon crickets


Nathan W. Bailey, Fax: (951) 827 4286; E-mail: nathanb@ucr.edu


Research investigating the geographical context of speciation has primarily focused on abiotic factors such as the role of Pleistocene glacial cycles, or geotectonic events. Few study systems allow a direct comparison of how biological differences, such as dispersal behaviour, affect population genetic structure of organisms that were subdivided during the Pleistocene. Mormon crickets exist in solitary and gregarious ‘phases’, which broadly correspond with an east–west mtDNA division across the Rocky Mountains. Gregarious individuals form bands that can move up to 2 km daily. This study assessed whether population genetic structure results mainly from deep Pleistocene vicariance or if we can also detect more recent genetic patterns due to phase and dispersal differences superimposed on the older, deeper divisions. We found that separation in refugia was a more important influence on genetic divergence than phase, with the Rockies acting as a barrier that separated Mormon cricket populations into eastern and western refugia during Pleistocene glacial cycles. However, patterns of isolation by distance differ between eastern and western clades for both mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, with greater divergence within the eastern, solitary clade. An mtDNA haplotype mismatch distribution is compatible with historical population expansion in the western clade but not in the eastern clade. A persistent (and possibly sex-biased) difference in dispersal ability has most likely influenced the greater population genetic structure seen in the eastern clade, emphasizing the importance of the interaction of Quaternary climate fluctuations and geography with biotic factors in producing the patterns of genetic subdivision observed today.