Data from: Resource stability and geographic isolation are associated with genome divergence in western Palearctic crossbills
Parchman, Thomas L. et al. (2018), Data from: Resource stability and geographic isolation are associated with genome divergence in western Palearctic crossbills, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.hf492bp
While many conifers produce annually variable seed crops, serotinous species (which hold seeds in cones for multiple years) represent unusually stable food resources for seed predators. Such stability is conducive to residency and potentially population divergence of consumers as exemplified by the Cassia crossbill (Loxia sinesciuris) in North America. We used genotyping-by-sequencing to test whether three Mediterranean subspecies of common crossbills (L. curvirostra) associated with the serotinous Aleppo pine (Pinus halepensis) were more genetically distinct than European crossbills associated with non-serotinous conifers. We assembled a Cassia crossbill draft genome as a reference for mapping GBS reads, and as a first step towards a more contiguous genome assembly. We found clear patterns of genetic divergence for each of the P. halepensis-associated subspecies. Geographic isolation, as promoted by resource stability and residency, is associated with genetic divergence of two of these subspecies. However, geographic isolation cannot account for divergence of L. c. hispana. Instead, resource stability likely contributed to divergence by reducing dispersal and increasing resource competition that may limit breeding by immigrants. In contrast, we found no differentiation among common crossbills associated with less stable resources, and only slight differentiation between common crossbills and parrot crossbills (L. pytyopsittacus). The substantial morphological divergence between common and parrot crossbills has likely originated or been maintained by selection despite gene flow generated by spatiotemporal resource fluctuation. Our results indicate that phenological as well as morphological characteristics of conifers have influenced crossbill diversification, and suggest a possible link between resource stability and population divergence.