Evol Ecol Res 10: 391-414 (2008)     Full PDF if your library subscribes.

How does genetic diversity change towards the range periphery?

An empirical and theoretical test

Salit Kark,1* Lilach Hadany,2 Uriel N. Safriel,1 Imanuel Noy-Meir,3 Niles Eldredge,4 Cristiano Tabarroni5,6 and Ettore Randi5

1Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology, The Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem, Israel,  2Department of Biology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA, USA,  3Department of Agricultural Biology, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Rehovot, Israel, 4Division of Paleontology, The American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY, USA, 5Istituto Nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica, Ozzano dell’Emilia (BO), Italy and 6NGB Genetics s.r.l., Ferrara (FE), Italy

Address all correspondence to S. Kark, The Biodiversity Research Group, Department of Evolution, Systematics and Ecology, The Silberman Institute of Life Sciences, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Jerusalem 91904, Israel.
e-mail: salit@cc.huji.ac.il


Question: How does genetic diversity change as one moves along a species’ range, towards the periphery? Previous work shows contradictory evidence for an increase, decrease or no clear trend along the range.

Hypothesis: A hump-shaped unimodal pattern of within-population genetic diversity will occur along the range with peak diversity in sub-peripheral populations. This hypothesis incorporates and explains some of the apparent contradictions found in the literature.

Organism: Thirteen native chukar partridge (Alectoris chukar) populations.

Location: A steep environmental gradient towards the periphery of the species’ range in Israel.

Methods: Genetic diversity was estimated in 26 allozyme loci.

Conclusions: A unimodal pattern of within-species genetic diversity, as expressed by measures of heterozygosity, is found along the range. Diversity peaks at the sub-periphery of the chukar range. These populations are located at the ecotone between the Mediterranean and desert climatic regions.

Appendix: A mathematical model that explores possible mechanisms generating the unimodal pattern. The model suggests that a unimodal pattern can appear under a range of parameters.

Keywords: Alectoris chukar, distribution range, genetic diversity, Israel, range periphery, sub-periphery.

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