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Keywords:

  • Gene flow;
  • spatial genetic structure;
  • phenotypic diversity;
  • wing geometric morphometrics

Abstract

A study of population connectivity of the migratory insect species, such as dronefly Eristalis tenax (Diptera, Syrphidae), has an essential importance in understanding the relative influence of the evolutionary forces and environmental features that interact in the spatial distribution of molecular and morphological diversity. However, specific study aiming to understand spatial genetic structure of dronefly populations and its migratory potential is lacking. Hence, we studied a spatial pattern of genetic and phenotypic variation of seven European populations of E. tenax incorporating landscape genetic methods using allozyme data, wing size and shape and abdominal colour pattern. Based on the observed lack of genotypic structuring, we suggested that there has been sufficient long-distance gene flow to effectively homogenize population structuring at a broader geographical scale. Wing shape similarity among populations and an overlap of abdominal colour variation showed no clear clustering related to geography, which is in congruence with genetic data. However, genetic (FST values) and phenotypic (wing size) data and landscape genetics indicated subdivision between the Balkan populations (four Serbian samples) and populations from Central (Germany and Switzerland) and Northern (Finland) Europe. These findings indicated a potential connection between the Central and Northern Europe supporting the Central European origin of the flies caught in Finland. Thus, by performing spatial analysis and combining genetic–morphological approach, we shed light on the movement pattern in complex landscapes and thus provided the necessary guidelines to a broad-scale analysis of this widespread generalist pollinator.