UBC Theses and Dissertations

UBC Theses Logo

UBC Theses and Dissertations

Migratory divides and the genetic basis of reproductive isolation Delmore, Kira


Differences in seasonal migratory behaviour could be an important driver of ecological speciation. Many divergent groups form migratory divides on their breeding grounds; they breed adjacent to one another but use different routes to navigate around unsuitable areas on migration. Hybrids in divides are predicted to employ intermediate and inferior routes. I used light-level geolocators to track birds from the edges and center of a hybrid zone between inland and coastal Swainson’s thrushes (Catharus ustulatus) in western Canada. These data provided the first direct identification of a migratory divide (Chapter 2) and support for the prediction that hybrids in divides take intermediate routes (Chapter 3). Hybrid routes crossed arid and mountainous regions, further suggesting that these routes are inferior. I extended this work to examine the genetic basis of reproductive isolation between thrushes, assembling a reference genome and generating whole-genome sequence data for populations adjacent to the hybrid zone between these groups (Chapter 4). I documented genome-wide heterogeneity in genetic differentiation and uncovered patterns suggesting selective sweeps and variation in recombination generated this heterogeneity; within-population variation and absolute genetic differentiation were lower in regions of high relative differentiation and these reductions often coincided with centromeres and the Z chromosome. Genes associated with migration were concentrated in highly differentiated areas, further supporting migration’s role in reproductive isolation between thrushes. I complimented this work using a comparative approach to determine if patterns in the Swainson’s thrush could be extended to other species (Chapter 5). Specifically, I compared rates of phenotypic divergence between sister pairs that form divides and those that do not. I considered phenotypic divergence a proxy for reproductive isolation and contrary to expectations, found divergence was greater among taxa that do not form divides. This pattern could be explained by differential fusion, with sister pairs that do not form divides fusing into a single unit during periods of secondary contact unless they were sufficiently diverged phenotypically. Differences in migration would have permitted the persistence of pairs that form divides even without phenotypic differentiation. Under this scenario, migration serves as one of the major sources of speciation in North American birds.

Item Citations and Data


Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada