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Journal Article

Asynchrony of Seasons: Genetic Differentiation Associated with Geographic Variation in Climatic Seasonality and Reproductive Phenology

Ignacio Quintero, Sebastián González-Caro, Paul-Camilo Zalamea and Carlos Daniel Cadena
The American Naturalist
Vol. 184, No. 3 (September 2014), pp. 352-363
DOI: 10.1086/677261
Stable URL:
Page Count: 12
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AbstractMany organisms exhibit distinct breeding seasons tracking food availability. If conspecific populations inhabit areas that experience different temporal cycles in food availability spurred by variation in precipitation regimes, then they should display asynchronous breeding seasons. Thus, such populations might exhibit a temporal barrier to gene flow, which may potentially promote genetic differentiation. We test a central prediction of this hypothesis, namely, that individuals living in areas with more asynchronous precipitation regimes should be more genetically differentiated than individuals living in areas with more similar precipitation regimes. Using mitochondrial DNA sequences, climatic data, and geographical/ecological distances between individuals of 57 New World bird species mostly from the tropics, we examined the effect of asynchronous precipitation (a proxy for asynchronous resource availability) on genetic differentiation. We found evidence for a positive and significant cross-species effect of precipitation asynchrony on genetic distance after accounting for geographical/ecological distances, suggesting that current climatic conditions may play a role in population differentiation. Spatial asynchrony in climate may thus drive evolutionary divergence in the absence of overt geographic barriers to gene flow; this mechanism contrasts with those invoked by most models of biotic diversification emphasizing physical or ecological changes to the landscape as drivers of divergence.

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