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PLoS Genet. 2017 Aug 3;13(8):e1006911. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1006911. eCollection 2017 Aug.

Deconstructing isolation-by-distance: The genomic consequences of limited dispersal.

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Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States of America.
Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States of America.
Archbold Biological Station, Venus, Florida, United States of America.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee, United States of America.
Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, United States of America.
Center for Population Biology & Department of Evolution and Ecology, University of California, Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.


Geographically limited dispersal can shape genetic population structure and result in a correlation between genetic and geographic distance, commonly called isolation-by-distance. Despite the prevalence of isolation-by-distance in nature, to date few studies have empirically demonstrated the processes that generate this pattern, largely because few populations have direct measures of individual dispersal and pedigree information. Intensive, long-term demographic studies and exhaustive genomic surveys in the Florida Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma coerulescens) provide an excellent opportunity to investigate the influence of dispersal on genetic structure. Here, we used a panel of genome-wide SNPs and extensive pedigree information to explore the role of limited dispersal in shaping patterns of isolation-by-distance in both sexes, and at an exceedingly fine spatial scale (within ~10 km). Isolation-by-distance patterns were stronger in male-male and male-female comparisons than in female-female comparisons, consistent with observed differences in dispersal propensity between the sexes. Using the pedigree, we demonstrated how various genealogical relationships contribute to fine-scale isolation-by-distance. Simulations using field-observed distributions of male and female natal dispersal distances showed good agreement with the distribution of geographic distances between breeding individuals of different pedigree relationship classes. Furthermore, we built coalescent simulations parameterized by the observed dispersal curve, population density, and immigration rate, and showed how incorporating these extensions to Malécot's theory of isolation-by-distance allows us to accurately reconstruct observed sex-specific isolation-by-distance patterns in autosomal and Z-linked SNPs. Therefore, patterns of fine-scale isolation-by-distance in the Florida Scrub-Jay can be well understood as a result of limited dispersal over contemporary timescales.

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