Persistent inter- and intraspecific gene exchange within a parallel radiation of caterpillar hunter beetles (Calosoma sp.) from the Galapagos
Faculty of Sciences. Biology
Molecular ecology. - Oxford
, p. 3107-3121
University of Antwerp
When environmental gradients are repeated on different islands within an archipelago, similar selection pressures may act within each island, resulting in the repeated occurrence of ecologically similar species on each island. The evolution of ecotypes within such radiations may either result from dispersal, that is each ecotype evolved once and dispersed to different islands where it colonized its habitat, or through repeated and parallel speciation within each island. However, it remains poorly understood how gene flow during the divergence process may shape such patterns. In the Galapagos islands, three phenotypically similar species of the beetle genus Calosoma occur at higher elevations of different islands, while lowlands are occupied by a fourth species. By genotyping all major populations within this radiation for two nuclear and three mitochondrial gene fragments and seven microsatellite markers, we found strong support that the oldest divergence separates the highland species of the oldest island from the remaining species. Despite their morphological distinctness, highland species of the remaining islands were genetically closely related to the lowland population on each island and within the same magnitude as lowland populations sampled at different islands. Repeated evolution of highland ecotypes out of the lowland species appears the most likely scenario and estimates of geneflow rates revealed extensive admixture among ecotypes within islands, as well as between islands. These findings indicate that gene exchange among the different populations and species may have shaped the phylogenetic relationships and the repeated evolution of these ecotypes.