Comparative studies of genomic differentiation among independent lineages can provide insights into aspects of the speciation process, such as the relative importance of selection and drift in shaping genomic landscapes, the role of genomic regions of high differentiation, and the prevalence of convergent molecular evolution. We investigated patterns of genetic diversity and divergence in stonechats (genus Saxicola), a widely distributed avian species complex with phenotypic variation in plumage, morphology, and migratory behavior, to ask whether similar genomic regions are important in the evolution of independent, but closely related, taxa. We used whole-genome pooled sequencing of 262 individuals from 5 taxa and found that patterns of genetic diversity and divergence are highly similar among different stonechat taxa. We then asked if these patterns remain correlated at deeper evolutionary scales and found that homologous genomic regions have become differentiated in stonechats and the closely related Ficedula flycatchers. Such correlation across a range of evolutionary divergence and among phylogenetically independent comparisons suggests that similar processes may be driving the differentiation of these independently evolving lineages, which in turn may be the result of intrinsic properties of particular genomic regions (e.g., areas of low recombination). Consequently, studies employing genome scans to search for areas important in reproductive isolation should account for corresponding regions of differentiation, as these regions may not necessarily represent speciation islands or facilitate local adaptation.All rights reserved. No reuse allowed without permission.was not peer-reviewed) is the author/funder, who has granted bioRxiv a license to display the preprint in perpetuity.
Recently diverged taxa provide the opportunity to search for the genetic basis of the phenotypes that distinguish them. Genomic scans aim to identify loci that are diverged with respect to an otherwise weakly differentiated genetic background. These loci are candidates for being past targets of selection because they behave differently from the rest of the genome that has either not yet differentiated or that may cross species barriers through introgressive hybridization. Here we use a reduced-representation genomic approach to explore divergence among six species of southern capuchino seedeaters, a group of recently radiated sympatric passerine birds in the genus Sporophila. For the first time in these taxa, we discovered a small proportion of markers that appeared differentiated among species. However, when assessing the significance of these signatures of divergence, we found that similar patterns can also be recovered from random grouping of individuals representing different species. A detailed demographic inference indicates that genetic differences among Sporophila species could be the consequence of neutral processes, which include a very large ancestral effective population size that accentuates the effects of incomplete lineage sorting. As these neutral phenomena can generate genomic scan patterns that mimic those of markers involved in speciation and phenotypic differentiation, they highlight the need for caution when ascertaining and interpreting differentiated markers between species, especially when large numbers of markers are surveyed. Our study provides new insights into the demography of the southern capuchino radiation and proposes controls to distinguish signal from noise in similar genomic scans.
Adaptive radiations have helped shape how we view animal speciation, particularly classic examples such as Darwin's finches, Hawaiian fruitflies and African Great Lakes cichlids. These 'island' radiations are comparatively recent, making them particularly interesting because the mechanisms that caused diversification are still in motion. Here, we identify a new case of a recent bird radiation within a continentally distributed species group; the capuchino seedeaters comprise 11 Sporophila species originally described on the basis of differences in plumage colour and pattern in adult males. We use molecular data together with analyses of male plumage and vocalizations to understand species limits of the group. We find marked phenotypic variation despite lack of mitochondrial DNA monophyly and few differences in other putatively neutral nuclear markers. This finding is consistent with the group having undergone a recent radiation beginning in the Pleistocene, leaving genetic signatures of incomplete lineage sorting, introgressive hybridization and demographic expansions. We argue that this apparent uncoupling between neutral DNA homogeneity and phenotypic diversity is expected for a recent group within the framework of coalescent theory. Finally, we discuss how the ecology of open habitats in South America during the Pleistocene could have helped promote this unique and ongoing radiation.
Information on genetic relationships among individuals is essential to many studies of the behaviour and ecology of wild organisms. Parentage and relatedness assays based on large numbers of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) loci hold substantial advantages over the microsatellite markers traditionally used for these purposes. We present a double-digest restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (ddRAD-seq) analysis pipeline that, as such, simultaneously achieves the SNP discovery and genotyping steps and which is optimized to return a statistically powerful set of SNP markers (typically 150-600 after stringent filtering) from large numbers of individuals (up to 240 per run). We explore the trade-offs inherent in this approach through a set of experiments in a species with a complex social system, the variegated fairy-wren (Malurus lamberti) and further validate it in a phylogenetically broad set of other bird species. Through direct comparisons with a parallel data set from a robust panel of highly variable microsatellite markers, we show that this ddRAD-seq approach results in substantially improved power to discriminate among potential relatives and considerably more precise estimates of relatedness coefficients. The pipeline is designed to be universally applicable to all bird species (and with minor modifications to many other taxa), to be cost- and time-efficient, and to be replicable across independent runs such that genotype data from different study periods can be combined and analysed as field samples are accumulated.
Comparative studies of closely related taxa can provide insights into the evolutionary forces that shape genome evolution and the prevalence of convergent molecular evolution. We investigated patterns of genetic diversity and differentiation in stonechats (genus Saxicola), a widely distributed avian species complex with phenotypic variation in plumage, morphology and migratory behaviour, to ask whether similar genomic regions have become differentiated in independent, but closely related, taxa. We used whole-genome pooled sequencing of 262 individuals from five taxa and found that levels of genetic diversity and divergence are strongly correlated among different stonechat taxa. We then asked whether these patterns remain correlated at deeper evolutionary scales and found that homologous genomic regions have become differentiated in stonechats and the closely related Ficedula flycatchers. Such correlation across a range of evolutionary divergence and among phylogenetically independent comparisons suggests that similar processes may be driving the differentiation of these independently evolving lineages, which in turn may be the result of intrinsic properties of particular genomic regions (e.g. areas of low recombination). Consequently, studies employing genome scans to search for areas important for reproductive isolation or adaptation should account for corresponding regions of differentiation, as these regions may not necessarily represent speciation islands or evidence of local adaptation.
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