Exploring Demographic, Physical, and Historical Explanations for the Genetic Structure of Two Lineages of Greater Antillean Bats

Muscarella, Robert; Murray, Kevin L.; Ortt, Derek; Russell, Amy L.; Fleming, Theodore H.

Observed patterns of genetic structure result from the interactions of demographic, physical, and historical influences on gene flow. The particular strength of various factors in governing gene flow, however, may differ between species in biologically relevant ways. We investigated the role of demographic factors (population size and sex-biased dispersal) and physical features (geographic distance, island size and climatological winds) on patterns of genetic structure and gene flow for two lineages of Greater Antillean bats. We used microsatellite genetic data to estimate demographic characteristics, infer population genetic structure, and estimate gene flow among island populations of Erophylla sezekorni/E. bombifrons andMacrotus waterhousii (Chiroptera: Phyllostomidae). Using a landscape genetics approach, we asked if geographic distance, island size, or climatological winds mediate historical gene flow in this system. Samples from 13 islands spanning Erophylla's range clustered into five genetically distinct populations. Samples of M. waterhousii from eight islands represented eight genetically distinct populations. While we found evidence that a majority of historical gene flow between genetic populations was asymmetric for both lineages, we were not able to entirely rule out incomplete lineage sorting in generating this pattern. We found no evidence of contemporary gene flow except between two genetic populations of Erophylla. Both lineages exhibited significant isolation by geographic distance. Patterns of genetic structure and gene flow, however, were not explained by differences in relative effective population sizes, island area, sex-biased dispersal (tested only for Erophylla), or surface-level climatological winds. Gene flow among islands appears to be highly restricted, particularly for M. waterhousii, and we suggest that this species deserves increased taxonomic attention and conservation concern.


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Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
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August 7, 2013