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Browsing by Subject "RAD-seq"

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  • Bergman, Nora (2021)
    Rapid environmental changes over the last 100 years have led to substantial range shifts across taxonomic groups. Understanding what facilitates successful shifts is important for predicting ecological consequences and planning efficient conservation actions. Interestingly, the very process of range expansion can affect the success of the shift by causing genetic changes in the expanding populations. Theory predicts that without sufficient gene flow, repeated founder events and strong genetic drift can result in allele frequency gradients and loss of genetic diversity along the expansion axis. Empirical studies testing these expectations in environment-driven range shifts are still relatively scarce, and how range expansions affect genetics in highly mobile species remains unclear. In this study, I investigated the genetic consequences of a recent range expansion in a long-distance migratory passerine, the reed warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus). Utilizing genome-wide data from restriction site-associated DNA sequencing (RAD-seq), I studied whether the expansion was reflected in either population structure or genetic diversity of the recently established Finnish range edge population. Despite philopatry and genetic differentiation to the range core populations, principal component analysis (PCA) and a model-based Bayesian clustering approach (fineRADstructure) revealed a lack of spatial population structure along a putative colonization route. Levels of genetic diversity, based on expected heterozygosity, nucleotide diversity, and private allele count, were found to be very similar between range edge (Finland) and range core (Central Europe). The results likely indicate high levels of gene flow both within the new population and across greater spatial distances during or after the range expansion. Due to a detected sequencing batch effect, however, the exact diversity estimates must be considered preliminary. These findings suggest that species with high enough dispersal propensity may escape the predicted genetic costs of range expansions, retaining high levels of genetic variation at range margins. This study provides valuable insights for understanding range shifts in mobile taxa, and highlights the need to investigate further the traits of species that enable the preservation of evolutionary potential during range shifts.