Phylogeographic analysis reveals high genetic structure with uniform phenotypes in the paper wasp Protonectarina sylveirae (Hymenoptera: Vespidae)

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From: PLoS ONE(Vol. 13, Issue 3)
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Document Type: Report
Length: 10,953 words
Lexile Measure: 1450L

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Author(s): Marjorie da Silva 1,*, Fernando Barbosa Noll 1, Adriana C. Morales-Corrêa e Castro 2

Introduction

Comprehension of the evolutionary processes that generate and maintain the biological diversity of tropical fauna has been challenging biologists for centuries and should be the underpinning of conservation strategies [1]. Current distributions result from the interaction between environmental requirements of species and geographical variation of environmental features [2]. Investigating the evolutionary history of species can increase understanding of the interactions between past climatic events and the evolutionary processes that contributed to current patterns of diversity [3-5].

Phylogeography focuses on the processes governing the distribution of genealogical lineages within species across the geographical landscape [6,7]. Phylogeographic approaches facilitate an increased understanding of the role that historical events play in the geographical patterns of genetic variability within and among species [5,8,9]. One of the strengths of this discipline is the approach of micro evolutionary processes (within populations) and macro evolutionary patterns at larger spatial and temporal scales, in an integrated way, by linking heredity (processes at the level of individual pedigrees), divergence at the population level, and phylogenetic relationships among species [6,10]. Demographic processes-drift, expansion and changes in effective population size-are consequence of biotic and abiotic conditions which a species was submitted during its evolutionary history and are reflected in genetic structure of neutral genes. The variable environmental conditions also act selecting phenotypes, once the morphological features affect the performance of individuals, impacting processes such as dispersal, colonization, and persistence [10]. Moreover, phenotypes provide information on local selective pressures and indicate a gene flow rupture history of the various populations due to a partial or total isolation between them [10,11]. Thus, analysis of phenotypic variation within a phylogeographic approach can promote great advances in understanding how genetic and morphological divergence arises and how they behave in the face of ecological / evolutionary changes [10].

A single model of vicariance or recent climate changes cannot explainthe origin of Neotropical biota [12]. This region, which includes the south of Mexico, Central and South Americas and the Caribbean islands, is known for remarkable biodiversity [13] and is perhaps the richest terrestrial biogeographical region in terms of species [14]. Understanding the spatial patterns integrated with the molecular diversity, phenotypic variation, reproductive isolation and history of areas can provide information about speciation, clarify the historical biogeography and allow hypothesis regarding the diversification mechanisms. Thereafter, incorporating such aspects can contribute significantly to the development of strategies for conservation of ecosystems [1,15].

Swarm-founding wasps of the Epiponini compose an interesting social tribe of vespids, presenting both complex social characteristics (intricate nest building, polygyny and swarm reproduction) and uncommon traits for a eusocial group, such as castes with the same or with a very similar morphology [16,17]. As the name suggests, these wasps initiate their colonies by swarms, with one or more queens accompanied by a group of workers [17,18]. As a social insect, the effective population size of P . sylveirae is very low, once there is only one or a few reproductives in...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A531000599