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Evolution of genomic variation in the burrowing owl in response to recent colonization of urban areas

AuthorsMueller, Jacob C.; Kuhl, Heiner; Boerno, Stefan; Tella, José Luis ; Carrete, Martina ; Kempenaers, Bart
Population genomics
Issue Date2018
PublisherRoyal Society (Great Britain)
CitationProceedings. Biological sciences / The Royal Society 285: : 20180206 (2018)
AbstractWhen a species successfully colonizes an urban habitat it can be expected that its population rapidly adapts to the new environment but also experiences demographic perturbations. It is, therefore, essential to gain an understanding of the population structure and the demographic history of the urban and neighbouring rural populations before studying adaptation at the genome level. Here, we investigate populations of the burrowing owl (Athene cunicularia), a species that colonized South American cities just a few decades ago. We assembled a high-quality genome of the burrowing owl and re-sequenced 137 owls from three urban-rural population pairs at 17-fold median sequencing coverage per individual. Our data indicate that each city was independently colonized by a limited number of founders and that restricted gene flow occurred between neighbouring urban and rural populations, but not between urban populations of different cities. Using long-range linkage disequilibrium statistics in an approximate Bayesian computation approach, we estimated consistently lower population sizes in the recent past for the urban populations in comparison to the rural ones. The current urban populations all show reduced standing variation in rare single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), but with different subsets of rare SNPs in different cities. This lowers the potential for local adaptation based on rare variants and makes it harder to detect consistent signals of selection in the genome.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1098/rspb.2018.0206
issn: 1471-2954
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