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Ecology and Evolution



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Climate oscillations have left a significant impact on the patterns of genetic diversity observed in numerous taxa. In this study, we examine the effect of Quaternary climate instability on population genetic variability of a bumble bee pollinator species, Bombus huntii in western North America. Pleistocene and contemporary B. huntii habitat suitability (HS) was estimated with an environmental niche model (ENM) by associating 1,035 locality records with 10 bioclimatic variables. To estimate genetic variability, we genotyped 380 individuals from 33 localities at 13 microsatellite loci. Bayesian inference was used to examine population structure with and without a priori specification of geographic locality. We compared isolation by distance (IBD) and isolation by resistance (IBR) models to examine population differentiation within and among the Bayesian inferred genetic clusters. Furthermore, we tested for the effect of environmental niche stability (ENS) on population genetic diversity with linear regression. As predicted, high-latitude B. huntii habitats exhibit low ENS when compared to low-latitude habitats. Two major genetic clusters of B. huntii inhabit western North America: (a) a north genetic cluster predominantly distributed north of 28°N and (b) a south genetic cluster distributed south of 28°N. In the south genetic cluser, both IBD and IBR models are significant. However, in the north genetic cluster, IBD is significant but not IBR. Furthermore, the IBR models suggest that lowlatitude montane populations are surrounded by habitat with low HS, possibly limiting dispersal, and ultimately gene flow between populations. Finally, we detected high genetic diversity across populations in regions that have been climatically unstable since the last glacial maximum (LGM), and low genetic diversity across populations in regions that have been climatically stable since the LGM. Understanding how species have responded to climate change has the potential to inform management and conservation decisions of both ecological and economic concerns.

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