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High gene flow across heterogeneous tropical montane environments in a Bornean endemic small mammal
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  • Lillian Parker,
  • Melissa Hawkins,
  • Miguel Camacho-Sanchez,
  • Michael Campana,
  • Jacob West-Roberts,
  • Tammy Wilbert,
  • Haw Chuan Lim,
  • Larry Rockwood,
  • Jennifer Leonard,
  • Jesús Maldonado
Lillian Parker
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
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Melissa Hawkins
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
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Miguel Camacho-Sanchez
Estación Biológica de Doñana
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Michael Campana
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
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Jacob West-Roberts
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
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Tammy Wilbert
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
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Haw Chuan Lim
George Mason University College of Science
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Larry Rockwood
George Mason University College of Science
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Jennifer Leonard
Estación Biológica de Doñana
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Jesús Maldonado
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute
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Abstract

Rapid shifts in environmental variables associated with elevational changes in montane ecosystems provide opportunities to test hypotheses regarding the effects of environmental heterogeneity on gene flow and genetic structure. In tropical mountains, spatial environmental heterogeneity combined with seasonal environmental stability is predicted to result in low dispersal across elevations. Few studies have investigated the genetic consequences of elevational environmental heterogeneity in tropical montane mammals. Here, we use a population genomics approach to test the hypothesis that mountain treeshrews (Tupaia montana) exhibit limited gene flow across elevational gradients and between two neighboring peaks within Kinabalu National Park (KNP) in Borneo. We sampled 83 individuals across elevations on Mt. Tambuyukon (MT) and Mt. Kinabalu (MK) and sequenced mitogenomes and 4,106 ultraconserved elements containing an average of 1.9 single nucleotide polymorphisms per locus. We detected high gene flow across elevations and between peaks. We found greater genetic differentiation on MT than MK despite its lower elevation and associated environmental variation. This implies that, contrary to our hypothesis, genetic structure in this system is not primarily shaped by elevation. We propose that this pattern may instead be the result of colonization history combined with restricted upslope gene flow on MT due to unique plant communities associated with its upper montane habitats. Our results serve as a foundation to identify and mitigate future effects of climate change on mountain treeshrews in KNP. Given predictions for 2100 CE, we predict that mountain treeshrews will maintain genetic connectivity in KNP, making it an important conservation stronghold.

Peer review status:ACCEPTED

21 Apr 2020Submitted to Molecular Ecology
22 Apr 2020Submission Checks Completed
22 Apr 2020Assigned to Editor
24 May 2020Reviewer(s) Assigned
23 Jun 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
08 Jul 2020Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
15 Aug 20201st Revision Received
15 Aug 2020Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
20 Aug 2020Editorial Decision: Accept