Change in sexual signalling traits outruns morphological divergence across an ecological gradient in the post-glacial radiation of the songbird genus Junco

Guillermo Friis, Borja Milá

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The relative roles of natural and sexual selection in promoting evolutionary lineage divergence remains controversial and difficult to assess in natural systems. Local adaptation through natural selection is known to play a central role in promoting evolutionary divergence, yet secondary sexual traits can vary widely among species in recent radiations, suggesting that sexual selection may also be important in the early stages of speciation. Here, we compare rates of divergence in ecologically relevant traits (morphology) and sexually selected signalling traits (coloration) relative to neutral structure in genome-wide molecular markers and examine patterns of variation in sexual dichromatism to explore the roles of natural and sexual selection in the diversification of the songbird genus Junco (Aves: Passerellidae). Juncos include divergent lineages in Central America and several dark-eyed junco (J. hyemalis) lineages that diversified recently as the group recolonized North America following the last glacial maximum (ca. 18,000 years ago). We found an accelerated rate of divergence in sexually selected characters relative to ecologically relevant traits. Moreover, sexual dichromatism measurements suggested a positive relationship between the degree of colour divergence and the strength of sexual selection when controlling for neutral genetic distance. We also found a positive correlation between dichromatism and latitude, which coincides with the geographic axis of decreasing lineage age in juncos but also with a steep ecological gradient. Finally, we found significant associations between genome-wide variants linked to functional genes and proxies of both sexual and natural selection. These results suggest that the joint effects of sexual and ecological selection have played a prominent role in the junco radiation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1276-1293
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Evolutionary Biology
Volume33
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 1 2020

Keywords

  • avian radiation
  • ecological divergence
  • Junco
  • phenotypic divergence
  • sexual signalling
  • speciation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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