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Discordant patterns of genetic and phenotypic differentiation in five grasshopper species codistributed across a microreserve network

AuthorsOrtego, Joaquín ; García-Navas, Vicente ; Noguerales, Víctor ; Cordero, Pedro J.
KeywordsPhenotypic divergence
Population fragmentation
Population genetics
Specialist species
Generalist species
Genetic diversity
Genetic structure
Issue DateDec-2015
CitationMolecular Ecology 24(23): 5796–5812 (2015)
AbstractConservation plans can be greatly improved when information on the evolutionary and demographic consequences of habitat fragmentation is available for several codistributed species. Here, we study spatial patterns of phenotypic and genetic variation among five grasshopper species that are codistributed across a network of microreserves but show remarkable differences in dispersal-related morphology (body size and wing length), degree of habitat specialization and extent of fragmentation of their respective habitats in the study region. In particular, we tested the hypothesis that species with preferences for highly fragmented microhabitats show stronger genetic and phenotypic structure than codistributed generalist taxa inhabiting a continuous matrix of suitable habitat. We also hypothesized a higher resemblance of spatial patterns of genetic and phenotypic variability among species that have experienced a higher degree of habitat fragmentation due to their more similar responses to the parallel large-scale destruction of their natural habitats. In partial agreement with our first hypothesis, we found that genetic structure, but not phenotypic differentiation, was higher in species linked to highly fragmented habitats. We did not find support for congruent patterns of phenotypic and genetic variability among any studied species, indicating that they show idiosyncratic evolutionary trajectories and distinctive demographic responses to habitat fragmentation across a common landscape. This suggests that conservation practices in networks of protected areas require detailed ecological and evolutionary information on target species to focus management efforts on those taxa that are more sensitive to the effects of habitat fragmentation.
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/mec.13426
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