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Data from: Is genomic diversity a useful proxy for census population size? Evidence from a species-rich community of desert lizards

Citation

Grundler, Maggie R.; Singhal, Sonal; Cowan, Mark A.; Rabosky, Daniel L. (2019), Data from: Is genomic diversity a useful proxy for census population size? Evidence from a species-rich community of desert lizards, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.3b1rj70

Abstract

Species abundance data are critical for testing ecological theory, but obtaining accurate empirical estimates for many taxa is challenging. Proxies for species abundance can help researchers circumvent time and cost constraints that are prohibitive for long-term sampling. Under simple demographic models, genetic diversity is expected to correlate with census size, such that genome-wide heterozygosity may provide a surrogate measure of species abundance. We tested whether nucleotide diversity is correlated with long-term estimates of abundance, occupancy, and degree of ecological specialization in a diverse lizard community from arid Australia. Using targeted sequence capture, we obtained estimates of genomic diversity from 30 species of lizards, recovering an average of 5,066 loci covering 3.6 Mb of DNA sequence per individual. We compared measures of individual heterozygosity to a metric of habitat specialization to ask whether ecological preference exerts a measurable effect on genetic diversity. We find that heterozygosity is significantly correlated with species abundance and occupancy, but not habitat specialization. Demonstrating the power of genomic sampling, the correlation between heterozygosity and abundance/occupancy emerged from considering just one or two individuals per species. However, genetic diversity does no better at predicting abundance than a single day of traditional sampling in this community. We conclude that genetic diversity is a useful proxy for regional-scale species abundance and occupancy, but a large amount of unexplained variation in heterozygosity suggests additional constraints or a failure of ecological sampling to adequately capture variation in true population size.

Usage Notes

Funding

National Science Foundation, Award: OSIE-0612855, DEB-0814277, DEB-1754398, DEB-1519732

Location

Western Australia