Genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation during a range expansion

Mona, Stefano; Ray, Nicolas; Arenas Busto, Miguel; Excoffier, Laurent (2014). Genetic consequences of habitat fragmentation during a range expansion. Heredity, 112(3), pp. 291-299. Oliver and Boyd 10.1038/hdy.2013.105

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We investigate the effect of habitat fragmentation on the genetic diversity of a species experiencing a range expansion. These two evolutionary processes have not been studied yet, at the same time, owing to the difficulties of deriving analytic results for non-equilibrium models. Here we provide a description of their interaction by using extensive spatial and temporal coalescent simulations and we suggest guidelines for a proper genetic sampling to detect fragmentation. To model habitat fragmentation, we simulated a two-dimensional lattice of demes partitioned into groups (patches) by adding barriers to dispersal. After letting a population expand on this grid, we sampled lineages from the lattice at several scales and studied their coalescent history. We find that in order to detect fragmentation, one needs to extensively sample at a local level rather than at a landscape level. This is because the gene genealogy of a scattered sample is less sensitive to the presence of genetic barriers. Considering the effect of temporal changes of fragmentation intensities, we find that at least 10, but often >100, generations are needed to affect local genetic diversity and population structure. This result explains why recent habitat fragmentation does not always lead to detectable signatures in the genetic structure of populations. Finally, as expected, long-distance dispersal increases local genetic diversity and decreases levels of population differentiation, efficiently counteracting the effects of fragmentation.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Department of Biology > Institute of Ecology and Evolution (IEE) > Population Genetics
08 Faculty of Science > Other Institutions > Teaching Staff, Faculty of Science

UniBE Contributor:

Mona, Stefano; Ray, Nicolas; Arenas Busto, Miguel and Excoffier, Laurent


500 Science > 570 Life sciences; biology




Oliver and Boyd




Isabelle Duperret

Date Deposited:

04 Sep 2015 08:45

Last Modified:

04 Sep 2015 08:45

Publisher DOI:





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