• Climatic niche;
  • Dasypodidae;
  • genetic connectivity;
  • microsatellites;
  • niche conservatism;
  • niche modeling

We unite genetic data with a robust test of niche divergence to test the hypothesis that patterns of gene flow between two lineages of the nine-banded armadillo are influenced by their climatic niches. We collected Geographical Information System (GIS) data on climate using locality information from 111 individuals from two lineages that had associated genetic material. We tested whether niches of these lineages were more conserved or divergent than the background environments of their geographic ranges and found evidence for niche conservatism on two axes and no evidence for divergence on any axis. To address the role of niche similarity in gene flow, we genotyped the 111 individuals at five microsatellite loci and tested whether admixed individuals tended to be located in parts of multidimensional environmental space (E-space) shared between the two lineages. We observed an asymmetrical pattern of overlap, in which the West lineage's E-space was almost completely included inside East lineage's E-space. Genetic admixture levels were significantly higher in the West lineage and, for both lineages, in shared portions of E-space. This suggests that niche similarity can facilitate gene flow among disjunct groups with moderate-to-good dispersal capabilities, contrasting with the prevailing view of niche conservatism as a diversifying force.