Velo-Antón G , Zamudio KR, Cordero Rivera A


Continental islands offer an excellent opportunity to investigate adaptive processes and to time microevolutionary changes that precede macroevolutionary events. We performed a population genetic study of the fire salamander (Salamandra salamandra), a species that displays unique intraspecific diversity of reproductive strategies, to address the microevolutionary processes leading to phenotypic and genetic differentiation of island, coastal and interior populations. We used eight microsatellite markers to estimate genetic diversity, population structure and demographic parameters in viviparous insular populations and ovoviviparous coastal and interior populations. Our results show considerable genetic differentiation (FST range: 0.06–0.27), and no clear signs of gene flow among populations, except between the large and admixed interior populations. We find no support for island colonization by rafting or intentional/accidental anthropogenic introductions, indicating that rising sea levels were responsible for isolation of the island populations approximately 9000 years ago. Our study provides evidence of rapid genetic differentiation between island and coastal populations, and rapid evolution of viviparity driven by climatic selective pressures on island populations, geographic isolation with genetic drift, or a combination of these factors. Studies of these viviparous island populations in early stages of divergence help us better understand the microevolutionary processes involved in rapid phenotypic shifts.


Journal: Heredity

DOI: 10.1038/hdy.2011.91