Host plant use drives genetic differentiation in syntopic populations of Maculinea alcon

Tartally, András and Kelager, Andreas and Fürst, Matthias A and Nash, David R (2016) Host plant use drives genetic differentiation in syntopic populations of Maculinea alcon. PeerJ, 2016 (3). Article number: 1865 . ISSN 2167-8359

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Abstract

The rare socially parasitic butterfly Maculinea alcon occurs in two forms, which are characteristic of hygric or xeric habitats and which exploit different host plants and host ants. The status of these two forms has been the subject of considerable controversy. Populations of the two forms are usually spatially distinct, but at Răscruci in Romania both forms occur on the same site (syntopically). We examined the genetic differentiation between the two forms using eight microsatellite markers, and compared with a nearby hygric site, Şardu. Our results showed that while the two forms are strongly differentiated at Răscruci, it is the xeric form there that is most similar to the hygric form at Şardu, and Bayesian clustering algorithms suggest that these two populations have exchanged genes relatively recently. We found strong evidence for population substructuring, caused by high within host ant nest relatedness, indicating very limited dispersal of most ovipositing females, but not association with particular host ant species. Our results are consistent with the results of larger scale phylogeographic studies that suggest that the two forms represent local ecotypes specialising on different host plants, each with a distinct flowering phenology, providing a temporal rather than spatial barrier to gene flow.

Item Type: Article
DOI: 10.7717/peerj.1865
Uncontrolled Keywords: Conservation units, Disruptive selection, Gentiana, Host specificity, Immigration, Maculinea rebeli, Myrmica, Phenological separation
Subjects: 500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology
Research Group: Cremer Group
SWORD Depositor: Sword Import User
Depositing User: Sword Import User
Date Deposited: 25 May 2016 14:04
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2017 09:54
URI: https://repository.ist.ac.at/id/eprint/584

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