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Hybrid zone genomics supports candidate species in Iberian Alytes obstetricans : supplementary material

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journal contribution
posted on 05.11.2019, 08:29 by Christophe Dufresnes, Íñigo Martínez-Solano

While estimates of genetic divergence are increasingly used in molecular taxonomy, hybrid zone analyses can provide decisive evidence for evaluating candidate species. Applying a population genomic approach (RAD-sequencing) to a fine-scale transect sampling, we analyzed the transition between two Iberian subspecies of the common midwife toad (Alytes obstetricans almogavarii and A. o. pertinax) in Catalonia (northeastern Spain), which putatively diverged since the Plio-Pleistocene. Their hybrid zone was remarkably narrow, with extensive admixture restricted to a single locality (close to Tarragona), and congruent allele frequency clines for the mitochondrial (13 km wide) and the average nuclear genomes (16 km wide). We also fitted clines independently for 89 taxon-diagnostic SNPs: most of them behave like the nuclear background, but a subset (13%) is completely impermeable to gene flow and might be linked to barrier loci involved in hybrid incompatibilities. Assuming that midwife toads are able to disperse in the area of contact, we conclude that these taxa experience partial reproductive isolation and represent incipient species, i.e. Alytes almogavarii and Alytes obstetricans. Interestingly, their evolutionary age and mitochondrial divergence fall below the thresholds proposed in molecular systematics studies, emphasizing the difficulty of predicting the outcome of secondary contacts between young lineages entering the grey zone of speciation.