von Rönn JA, Shafer AB, Wolf JB
Mol. Ecol. 25 (11) 2529-2541 [2016-06-00; online 2016-01-11]
Transcontinental migration is a fascinating example of how animals can respond to climatic oscillation. Yet, quantitative data on fitness components are scarce, and the resulting population genetic consequences are poorly understood. Migratory divides, hybrid zones with a transition in migratory behaviour, provide a natural setting to investigate the micro-evolutionary dynamics induced by migration under sympatric conditions. Here, we studied the effects of migratory programme on survival, trait evolution and genome-wide patterns of population differentiation in a migratory divide of European barn swallows. We sampled a total of 824 individuals from both allopatric European populations wintering in central and southern Africa, respectively, along with two mixed populations from within the migratory divide. While most morphological characters varied by latitude consistent with Bergmann's rule, wing length co-varied with distance to wintering grounds. Survival data collected during a 5-year period provided strong evidence that this covariance is repeatedly generated by disruptive selection against intermediate phenotypes. Yet, selection-induced divergence did not translate into genome-wide genetic differentiation as assessed by microsatellites, mtDNA and >20 000 genome-wide SNP markers; nor did we find evidence of local genomic selection between migratory types. Among breeding populations, a single outlier locus mapped to the BUB1 gene with a role in mitotic and meiotic organization. Overall, this study provides evidence for an adaptive response to variation in migration behaviour continuously eroded by gene flow under current conditions of nonassortative mating. It supports the theoretical prediction that population differentiation is difficult to achieve under conditions of gene flow despite measurable disruptive selection.