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Dynamics of genetic differentiation in the Rio Negro Tuco-tuco (Ctenomys rionegrensis) at the local and geographical scales



Dynamics of genetic differentiation in the Rio Negro Tuco-tuco (Ctenomys rionegrensis) at the local and geographical scales



University of California Publications in Zoology 133: 155-173



We examined the dynamics of geographic, and to a lesser extent, local genetic differentiation in Ctenomys rionegrensis (the Rio Negro tuco-tuco), which exhibits a remarkable variation in pelage color. Microsatellite allele frequencies and cytochrome b gene sequences were obtained and compared with previously published allozyme data to (1) examine genetic population structure, and (2) assess the likelihood of the local fixation of melanism by random genetic drift. At the geographic level, we present strong evidence for a historical range expansion by this species, as indicated by the absence of migration-drift equilibrium in all datasets and by coalescent-based estimates of demographic expansion for the cytochrome b data. Because of the former, genetic estimates of gene flow probably overestimate actual levels of gene flow. We suggest that values below Nm = 1 obtained from microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA are the most reliable, implying that, after expansion, the species has differentiated in near isolation, with genetic drift playing a primary role in genetic differentiation. In particular, microsatellite data suggest that the species is strongly structured geographically, with subpopulations constituting distinct genetic entities. At the local level, positive FIS values in some samples indicate that C. rionegrensis populations are reproductively subdivided, probably pointing to some kind of assortative mating that might show an association with pelage color. Furthermore, the pattern of genetic connections among individuals is intricate and involves networks of relatives, implying that philopatry could be common in this species.

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