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Pattern‐oriented modelling of population genetic structure

Diniz‐Filho, José Alexandre Felizola, Soares, Thannya Nascimento, Telles, Mariana Pires De Campos
Biological journal of the Linnean Society 2014 v.113 no.4 pp. 1152-1161
autocorrelation, cerrado, gene flow, gene frequency, genetic variation, indigenous species, models, population size, population structure, trees, variance
Although several statistical approaches can be used to describe patterns of genetic variation and infer stochastic differentiation, selective responses, or interruptions of gene flow due to physical or environmental barriers, it is worthwhile to note that similar processes, controlled by several parameters in theoretical models, frequently give rise to similar patterns. Here, we develop a Pattern‐Oriented Modelling (POM) approach that allows us to determine how a complex set of parameters potentially driving empirical genetic differentiation among populations generate alternative scenarios that can be fitted to observed data. We generated 10 000 random combinations of parameters related to population size, gene flow and response to gradients (both driven by dispersal and selection) in a spatially explicit model, and analysed simulated patterns with FSTstatistics and mean correlograms using Moran's I spatial autocorrelation coefficients. These statistics were compared with observed patterns for a tree species endemic to the Brazilian Cerrado. For a best match with observed FST(equal to 0.182), the important parameters driving simulated scenario are mainly related to population structure, including low population size with closed populations (low Nₘ), strong distance decay of gene flow, in addition to a strong effect of the initial variance of allele frequencies. These scenarios present a low autocorrelation of allele frequencies. Best matching of correlograms, on the other hand, appears in simulations with a large population size, high Nₘand low population differentiation and FST(as well as more gene flow). Thus, targeting the two statistics (correlograms and FST) shows that best matches with empirical data with two distinct sets of parameters in the simulations, because observed patterns involve both a relatively high FSTand significant autocorrelation. This conflict can be resolved by assuming that initial variance in allele frequencies can be interpreted as reflecting deep‐time historical variation and evolutionary dynamics of allele frequencies, creating a relatively high level of population differentiation, whereas current patterns in gene flow creates spatial autocorrelation. This make sense in terms of the previous knowledge on population differentiation in D. alata, especially if patterns are explained by a combination of isolation‐by‐distance and allelic surfing due to range expansion after the last glacial maximum. This reveals the potential for more complex applications of POM in population genetics.