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The biodiversity within tropical dry forests (TDFs) is astounding and yet poorly catalogued due to inadequate sampling and the presence of cryptic species. In the Mexican TDF, endemic species are common, and the landscape has been continually altered by geological and anthropogenic changes. To understand how landscape and environmental variables have shaped the population structure of endemic species, we studied the recently described species of leaf-toed gecko, Phyllodactylus benedettii, in coastal western Mexico. Using double-digest restriction site-associated DNA sequencing data, we first explore population structure and estimate the number of ancestral populations. The results indicate a high degree of genetic structure with little admixture, and patterns corresponding to both latitudinal and altitudinal gradients. We find that genetic structure cannot be explained purely by geographical distance, and that ecological corridors may facilitate dispersal and gene flow. We then model the spatial distribution of P. benedettii in the TDF through time and find that the coastline has been climatically suitable for the species since the Last Glacial Maximum. Landscape genetic analyses suggest that the combination of isolation by distance (IBD) and isolation by resistance (IBR; forest cover) has influenced the spatial genetic structure of the species. Overall, our genomic data demonstrate fine-scale population structure in TDF habitat, a complex colonization history, and spatial patterns consistent with both IBD and other ecological factors. These results further highlight the Mexican TDF as a diversity hotspot and suggest that continued anthropogenic changes are likely to affect native fauna.


Accepted manuscript, Connor M French, Casey-Tyler Berezin, Isaac Overcast, Fausto R Méndez De La Cruz, Saptarsi Basu, Roberto Lhemish Martínez Bernal, Robert W Murphy, Michael J Hickerson, Christopher Blair, Forest cover and geographical distance influence fine-scale genetic structure of leaf-toed geckos in the tropical dry forests of western Mexico, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2022;, blac118,



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