No latitudinal gradient in vertebrate genetic diversity across the Americas

Speed talk
10:55, vendredi 20 déc. 2019 (5 minutes)
Salle ABCD

Latitudinal gradients in species diversity have become well established with many proposed explanations. In contrast, the latitudinal distribution of genetic diversity remains understudied despite the vast amount of genetic data now available. Understanding the distribution of genetic diversity alongside species diversity is critical for refining biodiversity conservation decision-making. We made three predictions for a latitudinal gradient in genetic diversity, founded upon theories in the species diversity gradient literature: a negative gradient, a positive gradient, or no gradient at all. We then used nuclear DNA data from ~900 vertebrate species and ~9000 populations to show both very weak latitudinal and environmental influences on vertebrate genetic diversity across the Americas. We suggest the lack of a gradient is partly due to opposing processes at different latitudes that arrive at the same or similar result. Additionally, large-scale gradients can be flattened when assessing across species, as opposed to within individual species, and many responses are taxa-dependent. Regardless, our results suggest that conservation efforts targeting regions of high species richness may not capture regions of high genetic diversity.

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