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Population Genetic Structure of Early-Stage Parapatric Ecological Speciation in the Atlantic Song Sparrow

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dc.contributor.advisor Lim, Haw Chuan
dc.contributor.advisor Luther, David Clark, Jonathan D
dc.creator Clark, Jonathan D 2019-07-26 2019-09-12T19:52:35Z 2019-09-12T19:52:35Z
dc.description.abstract The most basic model of speciation requires two main components: divergent natural selection and isolation. But how does natural selection facilitate the rise of new species without isolation? If a species occupies different habitats across its range, then parapatric (i.e. adjacent) populations can be exposed to divergent selection, possibly leading to speciation. The song sparrow (Passerellidae: Melospiza melodia) is a common songbird with a variety of subspecies found across North America. One subspecies, the Atlantic song sparrow (M. m. atlantica), is a habitat specialist found in the dunes and saltmarshes of the east coast. We investigated the genetic differences of this subspecies from parapatric populations of the eastern song sparrow (M. m. melodia), a widespread generalist. Ecologically-driven parapatric divergence is a fundamental mechanism of speciation, but previous studies have had difficulty characterizing parapatric divergence at the genomic level due to limitations in resolution. We used a contemporary genomic method, RADseq, in conjunction with an assay of a mitochondrial gene to assess how the genomic differentiation of these divergently-adapted, parapatric subspecies have been shaped by ecological selection. We found that a putatively neutral genetic marker did not exhibit divergence between the subspecies, which suggests that they may interbreed frequently in their contact zone and/or have not been reproductively isolated for long enough for divergence to occur, as would be expected in the early stages of parapatric divergence. Analysis of RADmarkers revealed a clinal relationship in the proportion of genetic ancestry assignment with what appears to be extensive intergradation in transitional habitats, which may be due to hybrid superiority or an influx of genes from both parental types in these habitats. These patterns are consistent with our current understanding of parapatric ecological divergence and provide a framework for further investigations into the genomics of ecological speciation.
dc.language.iso en en_US
dc.subject population genetics en_US
dc.subject ecological speciation en_US
dc.subject parapatric en_US
dc.subject song sparrow en_US
dc.subject RADseq en_US
dc.subject population structure en_US
dc.title Population Genetic Structure of Early-Stage Parapatric Ecological Speciation in the Atlantic Song Sparrow en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Master of Science in Environmental Science and Policy en_US Master's en_US Environmental Science & Policy en_US George Mason University en_US

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