These authors equally contributed to the work.
LOCAL ADAPTATION MAINTAINS CLINAL VARIATION IN MELANIN-BASED COLORATION OF EUROPEAN BARN OWLS (TYTO ALBA)
Article first published online: 9 FEB 2010
© 2010 The Author(s). Journal compilation © 2010 The Society for the Study of Evolution
Volume 64, Issue 7, pages 1944–1954, July 2010
How to Cite
Antoniazza, S., Burri, R., Fumagalli, L., Goudet, J. and Roulin, A. (2010), LOCAL ADAPTATION MAINTAINS CLINAL VARIATION IN MELANIN-BASED COLORATION OF EUROPEAN BARN OWLS (TYTO ALBA). Evolution, 64: 1944–1954. doi: 10.1111/j.1558-5646.2010.00969.x
- Issue published online: 6 JUL 2010
- Article first published online: 9 FEB 2010
- Received July 16, 2009Accepted December 22, 2009
- Color polymorphism;
- environmental gradient;
- natural selection
Ecological parameters vary in space, and the resulting heterogeneity of selective forces can drive adaptive population divergence. Clinal variation represents a classical model to study the interplay of gene flow and selection in the dynamics of this local adaptation process. Although geographic variation in phenotypic traits in discrete populations could be remainders of past adaptation, maintenance of adaptive clinal variation requires recurrent selection. Clinal variation in genetically determined traits is generally attributed to adaptation of different genotypes to local conditions along an environmental gradient, although it can as well arise from neutral processes. Here, we investigated whether selection accounts for the strong clinal variation observed in a highly heritable pheomelanin-based color trait in the European barn owl by comparing spatial differentiation of color and of neutral genes among populations. Barn owl's coloration varies continuously from white in southwestern Europe to reddish-brown in northeastern Europe. A very low differentiation at neutral genetic markers suggests that substantial gene flow occurs among populations. The persistence of pronounced color differentiation despite this strong gene flow is consistent with the hypothesis that selection is the primary force maintaining color variation among European populations. Therefore, the color cline is most likely the result of local adaptation.