These authors contributed equally to this work.
Article first published online: 11 MAY 2012
© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd
Volume 21, Issue 14, pages 3433–3444, July 2012
How to Cite
LYONS, J. I., PIERCE, A. A., BARRIBEAU, S. M., STERNBERG, E. D., MONGUE, A. J. and De ROODE, J. C. (2012), Lack of genetic differentiation between monarch butterflies with divergent migration destinations. Molecular Ecology, 21: 3433–3444. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2012.05613.x
- Issue published online: 5 JUL 2012
- Article first published online: 11 MAY 2012
- Received 8 December 2011; revision received 21 March 2012; accepted 28 March 2012
- Columbus hypothesis;
- gene flow;
- monarch butterfly
Monarch butterflies are best known for their spectacular annual migration from eastern North America to Mexico. Monarchs also occur in the North American states west of the Rocky Mountains, from where they fly shorter distances to the California Coast. Whether eastern and western North American monarchs form one genetic population or are genetically differentiated remains hotly debated, and resolution of this debate is essential to understand monarch migration patterns and to protect this iconic insect species. We studied the genetic structure of North American migratory monarch populations, as well as nonmigratory populations in Hawaii and New Zealand. Our results show that eastern and western migratory monarchs form one admixed population and that monarchs from Hawaii and New Zealand have genetically diverged from North American butterflies. These findings suggest that eastern and western monarch butterflies maintain their divergent migrations despite genetic mixing. The finding that eastern and western monarchs form one genetic population also suggests that the conservation of overwintering sites in Mexico is crucial for the protection of monarchs in both eastern and western North America.