Pigmentation is often used to understand how natural selection affects genetic variation in wild populations since it can have a simple genetic basis, and can affect a variety of fitness-related traits (e.g. camouflage, thermoregulation, sexual display). In gray wolves, the K locus, a β-defensin gene, causes black coat color via a dominantly inherited KB allele. The allele is derived from dog-wolf hybridization and is at high frequency in North American wolf populations. We designed a DNA capture array to probe the geographic origin, age, and number of introgression events of the KB allele in a panel of 331 wolves and 20 dogs. We found low diversity in KB, but not ancestral ky, wolf haplotypes consistent with a selective sweep of the black haplotype across North America. Further, North American wolf KB haplotypes are monophyletic, suggesting that a single adaptive introgression from dogs to wolves most likely occurred in the Northwest Territories or Yukon. We use a new analytical approach to date the origin of the KB allele in Yukon wolves to between 1598 to 7248 years ago, suggesting that introgression with early Native American dogs was the source. Using population genetic simulations, we show that the K locus is undergoing natural selection in four wolf populations. We find evidence for balancing selection, specifically in Yellowstone wolves, which could be a result of selection for enhanced immunity in response to distemper. With these data, we demonstrate how the spread of an adaptive variant may have occurred across a species geographic range.

Mountain formation in Mexico has played an important role in the diversification of many Mexican taxa. The Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt in particular has served as both a cradle of diversification and conduit for dispersal. We investigated the evolutionary history of the Isthmura bellii group of salamanders, a widespread amphibian across the Mexican highlands, using sequence capture of ultraconserved elements. Results suggest that the I. bellii group probably originated in southeastern Mexico in the late Miocene and later dispersed across the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt and into the Sierra Madre Occidental. Pre-Pleistocene uplift of the Trans-Volcanic Belt likely promoted early diversification by serving as a mesic land-bridge across central Mexico. These findings highlight the importance of the Trans-Volcanic Belt in generating Mexico’s rich biodiversity.

Abstract. Despite encompassing a relatively small geographical area, montane regions harbour disproportionately high levels of species diversity and endemism.

Premise of the Study Calandrinia are small, succulent herbs that vary broadly in habitat, morphology, life history, and photosynthetic metabolism. The lineage is placed within the Montiaceae, which in turn is sister to the rest of the Portulacineae (Caryophyllales). Calandrinia occupy two distinct biogeographic regions, one in the Americas ( 14 species), and one in Australia ( 74 species). Past analyses of the Montiaceae present conflicting hypotheses for the phylogenetic placement and monophyly of Calandrinia, and to date, there has been no molecular phylogenetic analysis of the Australian species. Methods Using a targeted gene enrichment approach, we sequenced 297 loci from multiple gene families across the Montiaceae, including all named and 16 putative new species of Australian Calandrinia, and the enigmatic monotypic genus Rumicastrum. Key Results All data sets and analyses reject the monophyly of Calandrinia, with Australian and New World Calandrinia each comprising distinct and well-supported clades, and Rumicastrum nested within Australian Calandrinia. We provide the first well-supported phylogeny for Australian Calandrinia, which includes all named species and several phrase-named taxa. Conclusions This study brings much needed clarity to relationships within Montiaceae and confirms that New World and Australian Calandrinia do not form a clade. Australian Calandrinia is a longtime resident of the continent, having diverged from its sister lineage 30 Ma, concurrent with separation of Australia from Antarctica. Most diversification occurred during the middle Miocene, with lowered speciation and/or higher extinction rates coincident with the establishment of severe aridity by the late Miocene.

Population genetic theory related to the consequences of rapid population decline is well-developed, but there are very few empirical studies where sampling was conducted before and after a known bottleneck event. Such knowledge is of particular importance for species restoration, given links between genetic diversity and the probability of long-term persistence. To directly evaluate the relationship between current genetic diversity and past demographic events, we collected genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism data from pre-bottleneck historical (c.1906) and post-bottleneck contemporary (c.2014) samples of Pinzón giant tortoises (Chelonoidis duncanensis; n=25 and 149 individuals, respectively) endemic to a single island in the Galapagos. Pinzón giant tortoises had a historically large population size that was reduced to just 150-200 individuals in the mid 20th century. Since then, Pinzón’s tortoise population has recovered through an ex situ head-start program in which eggs or pre-emergent individuals were collected from natural nests on the island, reared ex situ in captivity until they were 4-5 years old, and subsequently repatriated. We found that the extent and distribution of genetic variation in the historical and contemporary samples was very similar, with the latter group not exhibiting the characteristic genetic patterns of recent population decline. No population structure was detected either spatially or temporally. We estimated an effective population size (Ne) of 58 (95% CI = 50-69) for the post-bottleneck population; no pre-bottleneck Ne point estimate was attainable (95% CI = 39-infinity) likely due to the sample size being lower than the true Ne. Overall, the historical sample provided a valuable benchmark for evaluating the head-start captive breeding program, revealing high retention of genetic variation and no skew in representation despite the documented bottleneck event. Moreover, this work demonstrates the effectiveness of head-starting in rescuing the Pinzón giant tortoise from almost certain extinction. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Disjunct distributions have intrigued biologists for centuries. Investigating these biogeographic patterns provides insight into speciation and biodiversity at multiple spatial and phylogenetic scales. Some disjunctions have been intensively studied, yet others have been largely overlooked and remain poorly understood. Among the lesser-known disjunction patterns is that between the mountain ranges of western North America. Flora and fauna endemic to the mountains of this region provide important systems for investigating causes and results of disjunctions, given the relatively recent geological formation of this area and the intense climatic fluctuations that have occurred since its formation. In Micranthes (Saxifragaceae), which has high rates of montane endemism, two species, M. bryophora and M. tolmiei, show this biogeographical pattern. By reconstructing a time-calibrated phylogeny based on 518 low-copy nuclear markers and including multiple populations of each species from the Coast Ranges, Cascades, Sierra Nevada, and Rocky Mountains, this study provides a biogeographical and temporal framework for the evolution of Micranthes in western North America. Strongly supported east-west differentiated clades are recovered for M. bryophora and M. tolmiei in both maximum likelihood and coalescent-based species tree reconstructions. Biogeographic analysis suggests different patterns of dispersal for both taxa and the dating analyses recovered contrasting ages for each clade. Due to both the different geographic patterns and the timing of the initial diversification of each taxon corresponding to different geologic and climatic events, the disjunction patterns shown for these taxa are suggested to be an example of biogeographical pseudocongruence.

The interplay of gene flow, genetic drift, and local selective pressure is a dynamic process that has been well studied from a theoretical perspective over the last century. Wright and Haldane laid the foundation for expectations under an island-continent model, demonstrating that an island-specific beneficial allele may be maintained locally if the selection coefficient is larger than the rate of migration of the ancestral allele from the continent. Subsequent extensions of this model have provided considerably more insight. Yet, connecting theoretical results with empirical data has proven challenging, owing to a lack of information on the relationship between genotype, phenotype, and fitness. Here, we examine the demographic and selective history of deer mice in and around the Nebraska Sand Hills, a system in which variation at the Agouti locus affects cryptic coloration that in turn affects the survival of mice in their local habitat. We first genotyped 250 individuals from 11 sites along a transect spanning the Sand Hills at 660,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms across the genome. Using these genomic data, we found that deer mice first colonized the Sand Hills following the last glacial period. Subsequent high rates of gene flow have served to homogenize the majority of the genome between populations on and off the Sand Hills, with the exception of the Agouti pigmentation locus. Furthermore, mutations at this locus are strongly associated with the pigment traits that are strongly correlated with local soil coloration and thus responsible for cryptic coloration.