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Variation within and between Closely Related Species Uncovers High Intra-Specific Variability in Dispersal

By Virginie M. Stevens, Sandrine Pavoine and Michel Baguette


Mounting evidence shows that contrasting selection pressures generate variability in dispersal patterns among individuals or populations of the same species, with potential impacts on both species dynamics and evolution. However, this variability is hardly considered in empirical works, where a single dispersal function is considered to adequately reflect the species-specific dispersal ability, suggesting thereby that within-species variation is negligible as regard to inter-specific differences in dispersal abilities. We propose here an original method to make the comparison of intra- and inter-specific variability in dispersal, by decomposing the diversity of that trait along a phylogeny of closely related species. We used as test group European butterflies that are classic study organisms in spatial ecology. We apply the analysis separately to eight metrics that reflect the dispersal propensity, the dispersal ability or the dispersal efficiency of populations and species. At the inter-specific level, only the dispersal ability showed the signature of a phylogenetic signal while neither the dispersal propensity nor the dispersal efficiency did. At the within-species level, the partitioning of dispersal diversity showed that dispersal was variable or highly variable among populations: intra-specific variability represented from 11% to 133% of inter-specific variability in dispersal metrics. This finding shows that dispersal variation is far from negligible in the wild. Understanding the processes behind this high within-species variation should allow us to properly account for dispersal in demographic models. Accordingly, to encompass the within species variability in life histories the use of more than one value per trait per species should be encouraged in the construction of databases aiming at being sources for modelling purposes

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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