Adaptive genetic divergence along narrow environmental gradients in four stream insects

Kozo Watanabe, So Kazama, Tatsuo Omura, Michael T. Monaghan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


A central question linking ecology with evolutionary biology is how environmental heterogeneity can drive adaptive genetic divergence among populations. We examined adaptive divergence of four stream insects from six adjacent catchments in Japan by combining field measures of habitat and resource components with genome scans of non-neutral Amplified Fragment Length Polymorphism (AFLP) loci. Neutral genetic variation was used to measure gene flow and nonneutral genetic variation was used to test for adaptive divergence. We identified the environmental characteristics contributing to divergence by comparing genetic distances at non-neutral loci between sites with Euclidean distances for each of 15 environmental variables. Comparisons were made using partial Mantel tests to control for geographic distance. In all four species, we found strong evidence for non-neutral divergence along environmental gradients at between 6 and 21 loci per species. The relative contribution of these environmental variables to each species' ecological niche was quantified as the specialization index, S, based on ecological data. In each species, the variable most significantly correlated with genetic distance at non-neutral loci was the same variable along which each species was most narrowly distributed (i.e., highest S). These were gradients of elevation (two species), chlorophyll-a, and ammonia-nitrogen. This adaptive divergence occurred in the face of ongoing gene flow (Fst = 0.01-0.04), indicating that selection was strong enough to overcome homogenization at the landscape scale. Our results suggest that adaptive divergence is pronounced, occurs along different environmental gradients for different species, and may consistently occur along the narrowest components of species' niche.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere93055
JournalPloS one
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Mar 28

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General


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