Genetic variation is of key importance for a species’ evolutionary potential, and its estimation is a major component of conservation studies. New DNA sequencing technologies have enabled the analysis of large portions of the genome in nonmodel species, promising highly accurate estimates of such population genetic parameters. Restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RADseq) is used to analyse thousands of variants in the bumble bee species Bombus impatiens, which is common, and Bombus pensylvanicus, which is in decline. Previous microsatellite-based analyses have shown that gene diversity is lower in the declining B. pensylvanicus than in B. impatiens. RADseq nucleotide diversities appear much more similar in the two species. Both species exhibit allele frequencies consistent with historical population expansions. Differences in diversity observed at microsatellites thus do not appear to have arisen from long-term differences in population size and are either recent in origin or may result from mutational processes. Additional research is needed to explain these discrepancies and to investigate the best ways to integrate next-generation sequencing data and more traditional molecular markers in studies of genetic diversity.
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