Drivers of genetic differentiation in a generalist insect-pollinated herb across spatial scales

Antonio Jesús Muñoz-Pajares, Cristina Garcia Perez, Mohamed Abdelaziz, Jordi Boch, Francisco Perfectti, Jose Maria Gómez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The isolation-by-distance model (IBD) predicts that genetic differentiation among populations increases with geographic distance. Yet, empirical studies show that a variety of ecological, topographic and historical factors may override the effect of geographic distance on genetic variation. This may particularly apply to species with narrow but highly heterogeneous distribution ranges, such as those occurring along elevational gradients. Using nine SSR markers, we study the genetic differentiation of the montane pollination-generalist herb, Erysimum mediohispanicum. Because the effects of any given factor may depend on the geographic scale considered, we investigate the contribution of different environmental and historical factors at three different spatial scales. We evaluate five competing models that put forward the role of geographic distance, local environmental factors [biotic interactions (IBEb) and climatic variables (IBEa)], landscape resistance (IBR) and phylogeographic patterns (IBP), respectively. We find significant IBD regardless of the spatial scale and the genetic distance estimator considered. However, IBEa and IBP also play a prominent role in shaping genetic differentiation patterns at the larger spatial scales, and IBR is significant at the fine spatial scale. Overall, our results highlight the importance of combining different estimators, statistical approaches and spatial scales to disentangle the relative importance of the various ecological factors contributing to the shaping of genetic divergence patterns in natural populations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1576-1585
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2017

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