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Island area, body size, and demographic history shape genomic diversity in Darwin's finches and related tanagers.

08:00 EDT 9th October 2019 | BioPortfolio

Summary of "Island area, body size, and demographic history shape genomic diversity in Darwin's finches and related tanagers."

Genomic diversity is the evolutionary foundation for adaptation to environmental change and thus is essential to consider in conservation planning. Island species are ideal for investigating the evolutionary drivers of genomic diversity, in part because of the potential for biological replicates. Here we use genome data from 180 individuals spread among 27 island populations from 17 avian species to study the effects of island area, body size, demographic history, and conservation status on contemporary genomic diversity. Our study expands earlier work on a small number of neutral loci to the entire genome, and from a few species to many. We find significant positive correlation between island size and genomic diversity, a significant negative correlation between body size and genomic diversity, and that historical population declines significantly reduced contemporary genomic diversity. Our study shows that island size is the key factor in determining genomic diversity, indicating that habitat conservation is key to maintaining adaptive potential in the face of global environmental change. We found that threatened species generally had a significantly smaller values of Watterson's theta (θ = 4N μ) compared to non-threatened species, suggesting that θ may be useful as a conservation indicator for at-risk species. Overall, these findings i) provide biological insights into how genomic diversity scales with ecological, morphological, and demographic factors; and ii) illustrate how population genomic data can be leveraged to better inform conservation efforts.

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Name: Molecular ecology
ISSN: 1365-294X
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