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Data from: Does population size affect genetic diversity? A test with sympatric lizard species

Cite this dataset

Hague, Michael T. J.; Routman, Eric J. (2015). Data from: Does population size affect genetic diversity? A test with sympatric lizard species [Dataset]. Dryad.


Genetic diversity is a fundamental requirement for evolution and adaptation. Nonetheless, the forces that maintain patterns of genetic variation in wild populations are not completely understood. Neutral theory posits that genetic diversity will increase with a larger effective population size and the decreasing effects of drift. However, the lack of compelling evidence for a relationship between genetic diversity and population size in comparative studies has generated some skepticism over the degree that neutral sequence evolution drives overall patterns of diversity. The goal of this study was to measure genetic diversity among sympatric populations of related lizard species that differ in population size and other ecological factors. By sampling related species from a single geographic location, we aimed to reduce nuisance variance in genetic diversity owing to species differences, for example, in mutation rates or historical biogeography. We compared populations of zebra-tailed lizards and western banded geckos, which are abundant and short-lived, to chuckwallas and desert iguanas, which are less common and long-lived. We assessed population genetic diversity at three protein-coding loci for each species. Our results were consistent with the predictions of neutral theory, as the abundant species almost always had higher levels of haplotype diversity than the less common species. Higher population genetic diversity in the abundant species is likely due to a combination of demographic factors, including larger local population sizes (and presumably effective population sizes), faster generation times and high rates of gene flow with other populations.

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United States of America
Mojave National Preserve