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Keywords:

  • contact zone;
  • introgression;
  • cline;
  • Ameiva chrysolaema;
  • mtDNA

Abstract

Studies of genetic contact zones provide valuable information regarding the processes of population divergence, adaptation and speciation. In this paper, I examine transitions in morphology, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and nuclear DNA (nDNA) haplotypes across a recent secondary contact zone in a Hispaniolan lizard Ameiva chrysolaema. Maximum likelihood cline fitting analyses suggest non-coincidence of cline centers and that the mtDNA cline is significantly displaced to the west of the remaining clines. nDNA and morphological clines are coincident and tend to be associated with the prevailing environmental gradient. The lack of cytonuclear disequilibrium near the center of the contact zone and the non-coincidence of character clines suggest that this zone does not conform to a tension zone model of hybridization; thus, gene flow across the zone does not seem to be impeded. The extremely narrow width of the dorsal scale size cline and the close association of this cline with the steepness of the environmental (precipitation) gradient suggest that this character may be under environmental selection. Taken together, this contact zone appears to be structured by a combination of mtDNA introgression, possibly associated with eastward movement of the zone, and environmental selection on some characters.