University of Oulu

Ebdon, S., Laetsch, D. R., Dapporto, L., Hayward, A., Ritchie, M. G., Dincӑ, V., Vila, R., & Lohse, K. (2021). The Pleistocene species pump past its prime: Evidence from European butterfly sister species. Molecular Ecology, 30, 3575– 3589.

The Pleistocene species pump past its prime : evidence from European butterfly sister species

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Author: Ebdon, Sam1; Laetsch, Dominik R.1; Dapporto, Leonardo2;
Organizations: 1Institute of Evolutionary Biology, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK
2ZEN Laboratory, Dipartimento di Biologia, Università di Firenze, Firenze, Italy
3Centre for Ecology and Conservation, University of Exeter, Cornwall, UK
4Centre for Biological Diversity, School of Biology, University of St Andrews, Fife, UK
5Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
6Institut de Biologia Evolutiva (CSIC - Universitat Pompeu Fabra), Barcelona, Spain
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 1.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2021
Publish Date: 2021-09-09


The Pleistocene glacial cycles had a profound impact on the ranges and genetic make-up of organisms. While it is clear that the contact zones that have been described for many sister taxa are secondary and have formed in the current interglacial, it is unclear when the taxa involved began to diverge. Previous estimates based on small numbers of loci are unreliable given the stochasticity of genetic drift and the contrasting effects of incomplete lineage sorting and gene flow on gene divergence. Here, we use genome-wide transcriptome data to estimate divergence for 18 sister species pairs of European butterflies showing either sympatric or contact zone distributions. We find that in most cases, species divergence predates the mid-Pleistocene transition or even the entire Pleistocene period. We also show that although post-divergence gene flow is restricted to contact zone pairs, they are not systematically younger than sympatric pairs. This suggests that contact zones are not limited to the initial stages of the speciation process, but can involve notably old taxa. Finally, we show that mitochondrial divergence and nuclear divergence are only weakly correlated and mitochondrial divergence is higher for contact zone pairs.

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Series: Molecular ecology
ISSN: 0962-1083
ISSN-E: 1365-294X
ISSN-L: 0962-1083
Volume: 30
Issue: 14
Pages: 3575 - 3589
DOI: 10.1111/mec.15981
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
1183 Plant biology, microbiology, virology
Funding: This work was supported by an ERC starting grant (ModelGenomLand). SE is supported by an EastBio studentship from the British Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC). KL is supported by a fellowship from the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC, NE/L011522/1). VD is supported by the Academy of Finland (Academy Research Fellow, decision no. 328895). RV acknowledges support from project PID2019-107078GB-I00/AEI/10.13039/501100011033. LD acknowledges support from project ‘Ricerca e conservazione sugli Impollinatori dell’ Arcipelago Toscano e divulgazione sui Lepidotteri del parco’. AH is supported by a Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) David Phillips Fellowship (BB/N020146/1).
Academy of Finland Grant Number: 328895
Detailed Information: 328895 (Academy of Finland Funding decision)
Copyright information: © 2021 The Authors. Molecular Ecology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.