A coalescent-based estimator of genetic drift, and acoustic divergence in the Pteronotus parnellii species complex

Liliana M. Dávalos*, Winston C. Lancaster, Miguel S. Núñez-Novas, Yolanda M. León, Bonnie Lei, Jon Flanders, Amy L. Russell

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
193 Downloads (Pure)


Determining the processes responsible for phenotypic variation is one of the central tasks of evolutionary biology. While the importance of acoustic traits for foraging and communication in echolocating mammals suggests adaptation, the seldom-tested null hypothesis to explain trait divergence is genetic drift. Here we derive F ST values from multi-locus coalescent isolation-with-migration models, and couple them with estimates of quantitative trait divergence, or P ST , to test drift as the evolutionary process responsible for phenotypic divergence in island populations of the Pteronotus parnellii species complex. Compared to traditional comparisons of P ST to F ST , the migration-based estimates of F ST are unidirectional instead of bidirectional, simultaneously integrate variation among loci and individuals, and posterior densities of P ST and F ST can be compared directly. We found the evolution of higher call frequencies is inconsistent with genetic drift for the Hispaniolan population, despite many generations of isolation from its Puerto Rican counterpart. While the Hispaniolan population displays dimorphism in call frequencies, the higher frequency of the females is incompatible with sexual selection. Instead, cultural drift toward higher frequencies among Hispaniolan females might explain the divergence. By integrating Bayesian coalescent and trait analyses, this study demonstrates a powerful approach to testing genetic drift as the default evolutionary mechanism of trait differentiation between populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-427
Number of pages11
Issue number4
Early online date17 Aug 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2019

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