Whole-genome analysis of Mustela erminea finds that pulsed hybridization impacts evolution at high latitudes

Communications Biology
By: , and 

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Abstract

At high latitudes, climatic shifts hypothetically initiate recurrent episodes of divergence by isolating populations in glacial refugia—ice-free regions that enable terrestrial species persistence. Upon glacial recession, populations subsequently expand and often come into contact with other independently diverging populations, resulting in gene flow. To understand how recurrent periods of isolation and contact may have impacted evolution at high latitudes, we investigated introgression dynamics in the stoat (Mustela erminea), a Holarctic mammalian carnivore, using whole-genome sequences. We identify two spatio-temporally distinct episodes of introgression coincident with large-scale climatic shifts: contemporary introgression in a mainland contact zone and ancient contact ~200 km south of the contemporary zone, in the archipelagos along North America’s North Pacific Coast. Repeated episodes of gene flow highlight the central role of cyclic climates in structuring high-latitude diversity, through refugial divergence and introgressive hybridization. When introgression is followed by allopatric isolation (e.g., insularization) it may ultimately expedite divergence.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Whole-genome analysis of Mustela erminea finds that pulsed hybridization impacts evolution at high latitudes
Series title Communications Biology
DOI 10.1038/s42003-018-0058-y
Volume 1
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Nature
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology WTEB
Description Article number: 51; 10 p.
First page 1
Last page 10