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Evol Appl. 2017 Dec 20;11(5):593-613. doi: 10.1111/eva.12580. eCollection 2018 Jun.

Great tits and the city: Distribution of genomic diversity and gene-environment associations along an urbanization gradient.

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Centre d'Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CEFE UMR 5175, Campus CNRS, Université de Montpellier Montpellier Cedex 5 France.
Wild Urban Evolution and Ecology Laboratory Centre of New Technologies University of Warsaw Warsaw Poland.


Urbanization is a growing concern challenging the evolutionary potential of wild populations by reducing genetic diversity and imposing new selection regimes affecting many key fitness traits. However, genomic footprints of urbanization have received little attention so far. Using RAD sequencing, we investigated the genomewide effects of urbanization on neutral and adaptive genomic diversity in 140 adult great tits Parus major collected in locations with contrasted urbanization levels (from a natural forest to highly urbanized areas of a city; Montpellier, France). Heterozygosity was slightly lower in the more urbanized sites compared to the more rural ones. Low but significant effect of urbanization on genetic differentiation was found, at the site level but not at the nest level, indicative of the geographic scale of urbanization impact and of the potential for local adaptation despite gene flow. Gene-environment association tests identified numerous SNPs with small association scores to urbanization, distributed across the genome, from which a subset of 97 SNPs explained up to 81% of the variance in urbanization, overall suggesting a polygenic response to selection in the urban environment. These findings open stimulating perspectives for broader applications of high-resolution genomic tools on other cities and larger sample sizes to investigate the consistency of the effects of urbanization on the spatial distribution of genetic diversity and the polygenic nature of gene-urbanization association.


SNP; genomic; great tit; selection; urbanization

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