Poleward range expansions are widespread responses to recent climate change and are crucial for the future persistence of many species. However, evolutionary change in traits such as colonization history and habitat preference may also be necessary to track environmental change across a fragmented landscape. Understanding the likelihood and speed of such adaptive change is important in determining the rate of species extinction with ongoing climate change. We conducted an amplified fragment length polymorphism (AFLP)-based genome scan across the recently expanded UK range of the Brown Argus butterfly, Aricia agestis, and used outlier-based (DFDIST and BayeScan) and association-based (Isolation-By-Adaptation) statistical approaches to identify signatures of evolutionary change associated with range expansion and habitat use. We present evidence for (i) limited effects of range expansion on population genetic structure and (ii) strong signatures of selection at approximately 5% AFLP loci associated with both the poleward range expansion of A. agestis and differences in habitat use across long-established and recently colonized sites. Patterns of allele frequency variation at these candidate loci suggest that adaptation to new habitats at the range margin has involved selection on genetic variation in habitat use found across the long-established part of the range. Our results suggest that evolutionary change is likely to affect species’ responses to climate change and that genetic variation in ecological traits across species’ distributions should be maximized to facilitate range shifts across a fragmented landscape, particularly in species that show strong associations with particular habitats.
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