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The Dynamics of Genetic and Morphological Variation on Volcanic Islands

Thomas Gübitz, Roger S. Thorpe and Anita Malhotra
Proceedings: Biological Sciences
Vol. 272, No. 1564 (Apr. 7, 2005), pp. 751-757
Published by: Royal Society
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30047595
Page Count: 7
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The Dynamics of Genetic and Morphological Variation on Volcanic Islands
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Abstract

Oceanic archipelagos of volcanic origin have been important in the study of evolution because they provide repeated natural experiments allowing rigorous tests of evolutionary hypotheses. Ongoing volcanism on these islands may, however, affect the evolutionary diversification of species. Analysis of population structure and phylogeographic patterns in island populations can provide insight into evolutionary dynamics on volcanic islands. We analysed genetic and morphological variation in the gecko Tarentola boettgeri on the island of Gran Canaria and compared it with Tarentola delalandii on Tenerife, a neighbouring volcanic island of similar age but distinctly different geological past. Intraspecific divergence of mitochondrial haplotypes indicates long-term persistence of Tarentola on each island, with a phylogeographic signal left by older volcanic events. More recent volcanic eruptions (approximately 0.2 million years ago on Tenerife, approximately 2.2 million years ago on Gran Canaria) have left a signature of population expansion in the population genetic structure, the strength of which depends on the time since the last major volcanic eruption on each island. While these stochastic events have left traces in morphological variation in Tenerife, in Gran Canaria geographical variation was solely associated with environmental variables. This suggests that historically caused patterns in morphology may be overwritten by natural selection within 2 million years.

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