Journal Article

The role of neutral and adaptive evolutionary processes on patterns of genetic diversity across small cave-dwelling populations of Icelandic Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus).

Judson, B.J., Kristj√°nsson, B.K., Leblanc, C.-L. and Ferguson, M.M.

Record Number:
Ecology and Evolution
14, e11363
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Understanding the adaptability of small populations in the face of environmental change is a central problem in evolutionary biology. Solving this problem is challenging because neutral evolutionary processes that operate on historical and contemporary timescales can override the effects of selection in small populations. We assessed the effects of isolation by colonization (IBC), isolation by dispersal limitation (IBDL) as reflected by a pattern of isolation by distance (IBD), and isolation by adaptation (IBA) and the roles of genetic drift and gene flow on patterns of genetic differentiation among 19 cave-dwelling populations of Icelandic Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus). We detected evidence of IBC based on the genetic affinity of nearby cave populations and the genetic relationships between the cave populations and the presumed ancestral population in the lake. A pattern of IBD was evident regardless of whether high-level genetic structuring (IBC) was taken into account. Genetic signatures of bottlenecks and lower genetic diversity in smaller populations indicate the effect of drift. Estimates of gene flow and fish movement suggest that gene flow is limited to nearby populations. In contrast, we found little evidence of IBA as patterns of local ecological and phenotypic variation showed little association with genetic differentiation among populations. Thus, patterns of genetic variation in these small populations likely reflect localized gene flow and genetic drift superimposed onto a larger-scale structure that is largely a result of colonization history. Our simultaneous assessment of the effects of neutral and adaptive processes in a tractable and replicated system has yielded novel insights into the evolution of small populations on both historical and contemporary timescales and over a smaller spatial scale than is typically studied. KEYWORDS colonization history, drift, ecological variation, fish movement, gene flow, geographic distance TAXONOMY and CLASSIFICATION Conservation genetics, Ecological genetics, Evolutionary ecology, Population genetics
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