Habitat fragmentation and landscape topology may influence the genetic structure and connectivity between natural populations. Six microsatellite loci were used to infer the population structure of 35 populations (N = 788) of the alpine Arabian burnet moth Reissita simonyi (Lepidoptera, Zygaenidae) in Yemen and Oman. Due to the patchy distribution of larval food plants, R. simonyi is not continuously distributed throughout the studied area and the two recognized subspecies of this endemic species (Reissita s. simonyi/R. s. yemenicola) are apparently discretely distributed. All microsatellites showed prevalence of null alleles and therefore a thorough investigation of the impact of null alleles on different population genetic parameters (FST, inbreeding coefficients, and Population Graph topologies) is given. In general, null alleles reduced genetic covariance and independence of allele frequencies resulting in a more connected genetic topology in Population Graphs and an overestimation of pairwise FST values and inbreeding coefficients. Despite the presence of null alleles, Population Graphs also showed a much higher genetic connectivity within subspecies (and lower genetic differentiation, via FST) than between; supporting existing taxonomic distinction. Partial Mantel tests showed that both geo- graphical distance and altitude were highly correlated with the observed distribution of genetic structure within R. simonyi. In conclusion, we identified geographical and altitudinal distances in R. simonyi as well as an intervening desert area to be the main factors for spatial genetic structure in this species and show that the taxonomic division into two subspecies is confirmed by genetic analysis.
Patterns of spatial genetic structure produced following the expansion of an invasive species into novel habitats reflect demographic processes that have shaped the genetic structure we see today. We examined 359 individuals from 23 populations over 370 km within the James River Basin of Virginia, USA as well as four populations outside of the basin. Population diversity levels and genetic structure was quantified using several analyses. Within the James River Basin there was evidence for three separate introductions and a zone of secondary contact between two distinct lineages suggesting a relatively recent expansion within the basin. Microstegium vimineum possesses a mixed-mating system advantageous to invasion and populations with low diversity were found suggesting a recent founder event and self-fertilization. However, surprisingly high levels of diversity were found in some populations suggesting that out-crossing does occur. Understanding how invasive species spread and the genetic consequences following expansion may provide insights into the cause of invasiveness and can ultimately lead to better management strategies for control and eradication.
Patterns of intraspecific genetic variation result from interactions among both historical and contemporary evolutionary processes. Traditionally, population geneticists have used methods such as F-statistics, pairwise isolation by distance models, spatial autocorrelation and coalescent models to analyses this variation and to gain insight about causal evolutionary processes. Here we introduce a novel approach (Population Graphs) that focuses on the analysis of marker-based population genetic data within a graph theoretic framework. This method can be used to estimate traditional population genetic summary statistics, but its primary focus is on characterizing the complex topology resulting from historical and con- temporary genetic interactions among populations. We introduce the application of Population Graphs by examining the range-wide population genetic structure of a Sonoran Desert cactus (Lophocereus schottii). With this data set, we evaluate hypotheses regarding historical vicariance, isolation by distance, population-level assignment and the importance of specific populations to species-wide genetic connectivity. We close by discussing the applicability of Population Graphs for addressing a wide range of population genetic and phylogeographical problems.