The influence of gene flow and drift on genetic and phenotypic divergence in two species of Zosterops in Vanuatu
Colonization of an archipelago sets the stage for adaptive radiation. However, some archipelagos are home to spectacular radiations, while others have much lower levels of diversification. The amount of gene flow among allopatric populations is one factor proposed to contribute to this variation. In island colonizing birds, selection for reduced dispersal ability is predicted to produce changing patterns of regional population genetic structure as gene flow-dominated systems give way to drift-mediated divergence. If this transition is important in facilitating phenotypic divergence, levels of genetic and phenotypic divergence should be associated. We consider population genetic structure and phenotypic divergence among two co-distributed, congeneric (Genus: Zosterops) bird species inhabiting the Vanuatu archipelago. The more recent colonist, Z. lateralis, exhibits genetic patterns consistent with a strong influence of distance-mediated gene flow. However, complex patterns of asymmetrical gene flow indicate variation in dispersal ability or inclination among populations. The endemic species, Z. flavifrons, shows only a partial transition towards a drift-mediated system, despite a long evolutionary history on the archipelago. We find no strong evidence that gene flow constrains phenotypic divergence in either species, suggesting that levels of inter-island gene flow do not explain the absence of a radiation across this archipelago.
Royal Society of London. Philosophical Transactions B. Biological Sciences
Biogeography and Phylogeography
Population, Ecological and Evolutionary Genetics