Both geographical distance and environmental barriers may influence genetic diversity within a species population. While models such as isolation-by-distance/environment have been shown to play a strong role, broad-scale studies have yet to determine if other factors might drive population diversity.
By identifying all GBIF-mediated species occurrences with associated GenBank accessions (and thus, genetic sequences), authors of this paper carried out analysis of more than 8,000 species in an unbiased assessment of such isolation models. They built a database of genetic structure predictors, including habitat type, range area and elevation.
Their results showed that a significant amount of population genetic structure can be attributed to geographical and environmental differences–and the top predictors across all analyses were related to geographical range.
While the study may lack genetic information for most species, it demonstrates the potential power of having species occurrence data linked to genetic sequences.