University of Oulu

Satokangas, I., Nouhaud, P., Seifert, B., Punttila, P., Schultz, R., Jones, M. M., Sirén, J., Helanterä, H., & Kulmuni, J. (2023). Semipermeable species boundaries create opportunities for gene flow and adaptive potential. Molecular Ecology, 32, 4329–4347.

Semipermeable species boundaries create opportunities for gene flow and adaptive potential

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Author: Satokangas, I.1; Nouhaud, P.2; Seifert, B.3;
Organizations: 1Organismal & Evolutionary Biology Research Programme, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
2CBGP, INRAE, CIRAD, IRD, Montpellier SupAgro, Univ Montpellier, Montpellier, France
3Department of Entomology, Senckenberg Museum für Naturkunde, Görlitz, Germany
4Biodiversity Centre, Finnish Environment Institute, Helsinki, Finland
5Institute of Biotechnology, HILIFE - Helsinki Institute for Life Science, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland
6Ecology and Genetics Research Unit, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
7Tvärminne Zoological Station, University of Helsinki, Hanko, Finland
8Department of Evolutionary and Population Biology, Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 3.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: John Wiley & Sons, 2023
Publish Date: 2023-10-04


Hybridisation and gene flow can have both deleterious and adaptive consequences for natural populations and species. To better understand the extent of hybridisation in nature and the balance between its beneficial and deleterious outcomes in a changing environment, information on naturally hybridising nonmodel organisms is needed. This requires the characterisation of the structure and extent of natural hybrid zones. Here, we study natural populations of five keystone mound-building wood ant species in the Formica rufa group across Finland. No genomic studies across the species group exist, and the extent of hybridisation and genomic differentiation in sympatry is unknown. Combining genome-wide and morphological data, we demonstrate more extensive hybridisation than was previously detected between all five species in Finland. Specifically, we reveal a mosaic hybrid zone between Formica aquilonia, F. rufa and F. polyctena, comprising further generation hybrid populations. Despite this, we find that F. rufa, F. aquilonia, F. lugubris and F. pratensis form distinct gene pools in Finland. We also find that hybrids occupy warmer microhabitats than the nonadmixed populations of cold-adapted F. aquilonia, and suggest that warm winters and springs, in particular, may benefit hybrids over F. aquilonia, the most abundant F. rufa group species in Finland. In summary, our results indicate that extensive hybridisation may create adaptive potential that could promote wood ant persistence in a changing climate. Additionally, they highlight the potentially significant ecological and evolutionary consequences of extensive mosaic hybrid zones, within which independent hybrid populations face an array of ecological and intrinsic selection pressures.

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Series: Molecular ecology
ISSN: 0962-1083
ISSN-E: 1365-294X
ISSN-L: 0962-1083
Volume: 32
Issue: 15
Pages: 4329 - 4347
DOI: 10.1111/mec.16992
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: Academy of Finland, Grant/Award Number: 200870, 114380, 309580 and 328961; Academy of Finland, ‘Thriving Nature’ research profiling action; HILIFE - Helsinki Institute of Life Science; Societas pro Fauna et Flora Fennica; Doctoral Programme in Integrative Life Science, University of Helsinki
Copyright information: © 2023 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.