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Molecular-level variation affects population growth in a butterfly metapopulation

Hanski, Ilkka and Saccheri, Ilik (2006) Molecular-level variation affects population growth in a butterfly metapopulation. PLoS BIOLOGY, 4 (5). Article Number: e129. 0719-0726. ISSN 1544-9173

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Abstract

The dynamics of natural populations are thought to be dominated by demographic and environmental processes with little influence of intraspecific genetic variation and natural selection, apart from inbreeding depression possibly reducing population growth in small populations. Here we analyse hundreds of well-characterised local populations in a large metapopulation of the Glanville fritillary butterfly (Melitaea cinxia), which persists in a balance between stochastic local extinctions and recolonisations in a network of 4,000 discrete habitat patches. We show that the allelic composition of the glycolytic enzyme phosphoglucose isomerase (Pgi) has a significant effect on the growth of local populations, consistent with previously reported effects of allelic variation on flight metabolic performance and fecundity in the Glanville fritillary and Colias butterflies. The strength and the sign of the molecular effect on population growth are sensitive to the ecological context (the area and spatial connectivity of the habitat patches), which affects genotype-specific gene flow and the influence of migration on the dynamics of local populations. The biological significance of the results for Pgi is underscored by lack of any association between population growth and allelic variation at six other loci typed in the same material. In demonstrating, to our knowledge for the first time, that molecular variation in a candidate gene affects population growth, this study challenges the perception that differential performance of individual genotypes, leading to differential fitness, is irrelevant to population dynamics. These results also demonstrate that the spatial configuration of habitat and spatial dynamics of populations contribute to maintenance of Pgi polymorphism in this species.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:Published: April 25, 2006. Citation: Hanski I, Saccheri I (2006) Molecular-level variation affects population growth in a butterfly metapopulation. PLoS Biol 4(5): e129. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040129
Uncontrolled Keywords:PHOSPHOGLUCOSE ISOMERASE; NATURAL-SELECTION; INBREEDING DEPRESSION; LANDSCAPE STRUCTURE; DYNAMICS; ADAPTATION; EXTINCTION; COLIAS; DISPERSAL; BEHAVIOR
Subjects:Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments, Research Centres and Related Units:Academic Faculties, Institutes and Research Centres > Faculty of Science > Department of Biological Sciences
DOI:10.1371/journal.pbio.0040129
Publisher's Statement:Copyright: © 2006 Hanski and Saccheri. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Related URLs:
Refereed:Yes
Status:Published
ID Code:831
Deposited On:24 Jul 2008 13:50
Last Modified:19 May 2011 20:00

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