Effect of the Central American Isthmus on gene flow and divergence of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)

Effect of the Central American Isthmus on gene flow and divergence of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)Avila-Cervantes, JoseArias, CarlosVenegas-Anaya, MiryamVargas, MartaLarsson, Hans C. E.McMillan, W. OwenDOI: info:10.1111/evo.14139v. 75No. 2245–259
Avila-Cervantes, Jose, Arias, Carlos, Venegas-Anaya, Miryam, Vargas, Marta, Larsson, Hans C. E., and McMillan, W. Owen. 2021. "Effect of the Central American Isthmus on gene flow and divergence of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)." Evolution 75 (2):245– 259. https://doi.org/10.1111/evo.14139
ID: 157996
Type: article
Authors: Avila-Cervantes, Jose; Arias, Carlos; Venegas-Anaya, Miryam; Vargas, Marta; Larsson, Hans C. E.; McMillan, W. Owen
Abstract: The final formation of the Central American Isthmus (CAI) about 3.5 million years ago altered global ocean circulation, connected North and South America terrestrial biotas, and established the Caribbean Sea. The nature of this event creates a natural scenario to test vicariance, divergence, and speciation by allopatry. Studies have shown the effect of the CAI on marine and terrestrial species, but none have examined a large-bodied amphibious taxon. We used RAD sequencing on populations of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) to study the genomic variation of C. acutus on both sides of the CAI, infer its demographic history, and measure the effect of the opening of the Panama Canal. Our results showed three genomic clusters: (1) Caribbean and the Panama Canal, (2) Pacific coast, and (3) Coiba island. The estimated divergence times between the Caribbean and Pacific populations are about 20,000 years ago, which is younger than the formation of the CAI, coinciding with the Last Glacial Maximum. We hypothesize the glacial/interglacial cycles facilitated gene flow between the Caribbean and Pacific crocodile populations after the formation of the CAI, masking any genomic divergence the CAI may have caused. There is no evidence of gene flow associated with the opening of the Panama Canal.