Climatic stability and genetic divergence in the tropical insular lizard Anolis krugi, the Puerto Rican 'Lagartijo Jardinero de la Montaña'.

Research paper by Javier A JA Rodríguez-Robles, Tereza T Jezkova, Manuel M Leal

Indexed on: 09 Apr '10Published on: 09 Apr '10Published in: Molecular Ecology


Two factors that can lead to geographic structuring in conspecific populations are barriers to dispersal and climatic stability. Populations that occur in different physiographic regions may be restricted to those areas by physical and/or ecological barriers, which may facilitate the formation of phylogeographic clades. Long-term climatic stability can also promote genetic diversification, because new clades are more likely to evolve in areas that experience lesser climatic shifts. We conducted a phylogeographic study of the Puerto Rican lizard Anolis krugi to assess whether populations of this anole show genetic discontinuities across the species' range, and if they do, whether these breaks coincide with the boundaries of the five physiographic regions of Puerto Rico. We also assessed whether interpopulation genetic distances in A. krugi are positively correlated with relative climatic stability in the island. Anolis krugi exhibits genetic structuring, but the phylogroups do not correspond to the physiographic regions of Puerto Rico. We used climatic reconstructions of two environmental extremes of the Quaternary period, the present conditions and those during the last glacial maximum (LGM), to quantify the degree of climatic stability between sampling locations. We documented positive correlations between genetic distances and relative climatic stability, although these associations were not significant when corrected for autocorrelation. Principal component analyses indicated the existence of climatic niche differences between some phylogeographic clades of A. krugi. The approach that we employed to assess the relationship between climatic stability and the genetic architecture of A. krugi can also be used to investigate the impact of factors such as the spatial distribution of food sources, parasites, predators or competitors on the genetic landscape of a species.