Global survey shows genetic structure predicted by range size and latitude

Study of GBIF-mediated occurrences linked with DNA sequences finds that geographical attributes determine genetic structure of species populations

Stethophyma lineatum
Striped sedge locust (Stethophyma lineatum)–occurrence via the University of Alaska Museum of the North linked to BoLD barcode and Genbank sequences.

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.

Link to original article

Pelletier TA and Carstens BC (2018) Geographical range size and latitude predict population genetic structure in a global survey. Biology Letters. The Royal Society 14(1): 20170566. Available at: