Neutral theory predicts that genetic diversity increases with population size, yet observed levels of diversity across metazoans vary only two orders of magnitude while population sizes vary over several. This unexpectedly narrow range of diversity is known as Lewontin’s Paradox of Variation (1974). While some have suggested selection constrains diversity, tests of this hypothesis seem to fall short. Here, I revisit Lewontin’s Paradox to assess whether current models of linked selection are capable of reducing diversity to this extent. To quantify the discrepancy between pairwise diversity and census population sizes across species, I combine previously-published estimates of pairwise diversity from 172 metazoan taxa with newly derived estimates of census sizes. Using phylogenetic comparative methods, I show this relationship is significant accounting for phylogeny, but with high phylogenetic signal and evidence that some lineages experience shifts in the evolutionary rate of diversity deep in the past. Additionally, I find a negative relationship between recombination map length and census size, suggesting abundant species have less recombination and experience greater reductions in diversity due to linked selection. However, I show that even assuming strong and abundant selection, models of linked selection are unlikely to explain the observed relationship between diversity and census sizes across species.
All primary datasets collated by this study, including new census size and range estimates, are available on Github at HTTP://github.com/vsbuffalo/paradox_variation. An archived version of this repository is also available at Zenodo.
Why do species get a thin slice of π?10.5281/zenodo.4542480.
Nucleotide diversity estimates.10.1371/journal.pbio.1001388.s001.
Supplementary material from "Variation in recombination frequency and distribution across eukaryotes: patterns and processes"https://doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.c.3904942.v3.
- Vince Buffalo
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
- Guy Sella, Columbia University, United States
© 2021, Buffalo
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Maintaining water balance is a universal challenge for organisms living in terrestrial environments, especially for insects, which have essential roles in our ecosystem. Although the high surface area to volume ratio in insects makes them vulnerable to water loss, insects have evolved different levels of desiccation resistance to adapt to diverse environments. To withstand desiccation, insects use a lipid layer called cuticular hydrocarbons (CHCs) to reduce water evaporation from the body surface. It has long been hypothesized that the waterproofing capability of this CHC layer, which can confer different levels of desiccation resistance, depends on its chemical composition. However, it is unknown which CHC components are important contributors to desiccation resistance and how these components can determine differences in desiccation resistance. In this study, we used machine learning algorithms, correlation analyses, and synthetic CHCs to investigate how different CHC components affect desiccation resistance in 50 Drosophila and related species. We showed that desiccation resistance differences across these species can be largely explained by variation in CHC composition. In particular, length variation in a subset of CHCs, the methyl-branched CHCs (mbCHCs), is a key determinant of desiccation resistance. There is also a significant correlation between the evolution of longer mbCHCs and higher desiccation resistance in these species. Given that CHCs are almost ubiquitous in insects, we suggest that evolutionary changes in insect CHC components can be a general mechanism for the evolution of desiccation resistance and adaptation to diverse and changing environments.
The independent movements and flexibility of various parts of the skull, called cranial kinesis, are an evolutionary innovation that is found in living vertebrates only in some squamates and crown birds and is considered to be a major factor underpinning much of the enormous phenotypic and ecological diversity of living birds, the most diverse group of extant amniotes. Compared to the postcranium, our understanding of the evolutionary assemblage of the characteristic modern bird skull has been hampered by sparse fossil records of early cranial materials, with competing hypotheses regarding the evolutionary development of cranial kinesis among early members of the avialans. Here, a detailed three-dimensional reconstruction of the skull of the Early Cretaceous enantiornithine Yuanchuavis kompsosoura allows for its in-depth description, including elements that are poorly known among early-diverging avialans but are central to deciphering the mosaic assembly of features required for modern avian cranial kinesis. Our reconstruction of the skull shows evolutionary and functional conservation of the temporal and palatal regions by retaining the ancestral theropod dinosaurian configuration within the skull of this otherwise derived and volant bird. Geometric morphometric analysis of the palatine suggests that loss of the jugal process represents the first step in the structural modifications of this element leading to the kinetic crown bird condition. The mixture of plesiomorphic temporal and palatal structures together with a derived avialan rostrum and postcranial skeleton encapsulated in Yuanchuavis manifests the key role of evolutionary mosaicism and experimentation in early bird diversification.