Gene flow patterns reinforce the ecological plasticity of Tropidurus hispidus (Squamata: Tropiduridae)
Keywords:Tropidurus hispidus, ISSRs, gene flow, dispersal capacity, population connectivity
The analysis of gene flow patterns can provide important insights into population dynamics in the context of landscape ecology. In lizards, this approach has been used to evaluate patterns related to climate change, habitat fragmentation, and taxonomic uncertainties. Tropidurus hispidus is an ecologically plastic species, which presents some evidence of population structuring. In the present study, we investigated the potential structuring of T. hispidus populations across a gradient of tropical biomes, including the Amazon and Atlantic rainforests, the Caatinga dry forest, the Caatinga-Atlantic Forest transition zone (Agreste), coastal Restinga, and urban environments. Nuclear ISSR markers were obtained by PCR/electrophoresis, and a number of population parameters were estimated and analyzed. Despite the extreme environmental discontinuities found across the vast study area, the results revealed a high degree of genetic connectivity among the different demes. This pattern indicates that the species can be considered to be a single evolutionary taxon with gene flow among all populations, despite the marked environmental discontinuities. Tropidurus hispidus clearly has a marked capacity for dispersal, which may be favored by its intrinsic genetic diversity.
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