Universiteit Leiden

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Dissertation

Hybrid zone dynamics in amphibians

Hybrid zones occur where two species meet and produce offspring (hybrids). Typically, hybrids show a considerable reduction in fitness. In this thesis two hybrid zones are treated.

Author
Riemsdijk, I. van
Date
11 September 2019
Links
Thesis in Leiden Repository

Hybrid zones occur where two species meet and produce offspring (hybrids). Typically, hybrids show a considerable reduction in fitness. In this thesis two hybrid zones are treated.Two species of banded newts (Ommatotriton nesterovi and O. ophryticus) are thought to meet in a hybrid zone in the north of Turkey. In this thesis I confirm the species status of the two banded newt species based on mitochondrial DNA and two nuclear DNA sequences. The location of the hybrid zone is narrowed down to a 60 km wide region. If a hybrid zone is present between O. nesterovi and O. ophryticus, it is narrower than 60 km and it may be geographically stable. An introduced population of hybrid banded newts in Spain provides evidence that the two species can produce fertile offspring. This increases the likelihood that a hybrid zone indeed exists between the two species.Common and spined toads (Bufo bufo and B. spinosus) meet in an 800 km long hybrid zone that runs diagonally across France. A genetic footprint north of the hybrid zone was previously recorded and linked to southward hybrid zone movement, with B. bufo overtaking B. spinosus. To test hypotheses of hybrid zone movement, a transect in northwest France was studied with 31 nuclear markers. The contrasting results suggest that stronger reproductive isolation on the B. spinosus side of the hybrid zone than on the B. bufo side, may be more likely than hybrid zone movement.To continue the research on the Bufo hybrid zone, two distant transects, one in the northwest and one in the southeast of France, were studied using 1200 nuclear markers. Asymmetries which were previously found in the literature and in this thesis, were confirmed for the hybrid zone in northwest France, but not in the southeast, where the gene flow appears to be symmetric, indicating the hybrid zone is stable here. Barrier markers, genetic regions which may be associated with barrier genes, were identified by their relatively restricted gene flow. The barrier markers present in both transects suggest that the two species have evolved a universal genetic barrier to gene flow. The differences in patterns of gene flow between the transects may be caused by genetic divergence within B. bufo, documented in previous phylogeographical work. We can clearly no longer think of hybrid zones as static upon formation; hybrid zones evolve! With the increasing availability of genome resources, detection of more detailed patterns of differential introgression along the genome in hybrid zone studies will reveal the genetic architecture of speciation and the evolution of hybrid zones.

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