Structure and dynamics of hybrid zones at different stages of speciation in the common vole (Microtus arvalis)

Beysard, Mathias; Heckel, Gerald (2014). Structure and dynamics of hybrid zones at different stages of speciation in the common vole (Microtus arvalis). Molecular Ecology, 23(3), pp. 673-687. Wiley-Blackwell 10.1111/mec.12613

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The genetic structure and dynamics of hybrid zones provide crucial information for understanding the processes and mechanisms of evolutionary divergence and speciation. In general, higher levels of evolutionary divergence between taxa are more likely to be associated with reproductive isolation and may result in suppressed or strongly restricted hybridization. In this study, we examined two secondary contact zones between three deep evolutionary lineages in the common vole (Microtus arvalis). Differences in divergence times between the lineages can shed light on different stages of reproductive isolation and thus provide information on the ongoing speciation process in M. arvalis. We examined more than 800 individuals for mitochondrial (mtDNA), Y-chromosome and autosomal markers and used assignment and cline analysis methods to characterize the extent and direction of gene flow in the contact zones. Introgression of both autosomal and mtDNA markers in a relatively broad area of admixture indicates selectively neutral hybridization between the least-divergent lineages (Central and Eastern) without evidence for partial reproductive isolation. In contrast, a very narrow area of hybridization, shifts in marker clines and the quasi-absence of Y-chromosome introgression support a moving hybrid zone and unidirectional selection against male hybrids between the lineages with older divergence (Central and Western). Data from a replicate transect further support non-neutral processes in this hybrid zone and also suggest a role for landscape history in the movement and shaping of geneflow profiles.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Population Genetics

UniBE Contributor:

Beysard, Mathias and Heckel, Gerald


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology








Isabelle Duperret

Date Deposited:

01 Sep 2015 14:42

Last Modified:

01 Sep 2015 14:46

Publisher DOI:





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