Signatures of local adaptation along environmental gradients in a range-expanding damselfly (Ischnura elegans)

Rachael Y Dudaniec (Corresponding Author), Chuan Ji Yong, Lesley T. Lancaster, Erik I. Svensson, Bengt Hansson

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Insect distributions are shifting rapidly in response to climate change and are undergoing rapid evolutionary change. We investigate the molecular signatures underlying local adaptation in the range‐expanding damselfly, Ischnura elegans. Using a landscape genomic approach combined with generalized dissimilarity modelling (GDM), we detect selection signatures on loci via allelic frequency change along environmental gradients. We analyse 13,612 Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), derived from Restriction site‐Associated DNA sequencing (RADseq), in 426 individuals from 25 sites spanning the I. elegans distribution in Sweden, including its expanding northern range edge. Environmental association analysis (EAA) and the magnitude of allele frequency change along the range expansion gradient revealed significant signatures of selection in relation to high maximum summer temperature, high mean annual precipitation, and low wind speeds at the range edge. SNP annotations with significant signatures of selection revealed gene functions associated with ongoing range expansion, including heat shock proteins (HSP40 and HSP70), ion transport (V‐ATPase) and visual processes (long wavelength‐sensitive opsin), which have implications for thermal stress response, salinity tolerance and mate discrimination, respectively. We also identified environmental thresholds where climate‐mediated selection is likely to be strong, and indicate that I. elegans is rapidly adapting to the climatic environment during its ongoing range expansion. Our findings empirically validate an integrative approach for detecting spatially explicit signatures of local adaptation along environmental gradients.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2576-2593
Number of pages18
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number11
Early online date19 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018

Bibliographical note

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSThis work was supported by an EU FP7, Marie Curie International Incoming Fellowship (to RYD; project code “MOVE2ADAPT”), a Wenner-Gren Foundation Postdoctoral Stipend (to RYD), the Oscar and Lili Lamm Foundation (to RYD, BH), Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services in a Changing Climate (BECC; a joint Lund–Gothenburg University initiative) (LL), the Swedish Research Council (EIS, BH),the Crafoord Foundation (EIS, BH) and Erik Philip-Sorensens Stiftelse (E.I.S.). We would like to thank Hanna Bensch and Paul Caplat for assistance with the collection of samples in the field and the Grimso Research Station and Mikael Akesson for logistical support. Wethank Pallavi Chauhan for assistance with SNP annotation. We thank Martin Andersson for assistance with DNA extraction, Jane Jonssonfor laboratory administration, and Julian Catchen, Martin Stervander, Dag Ahren and Maren Wellenreuther for bioinformatics advice and helpful discussion.


  • range expansion
  • landscape genomics
  • Ischnura
  • local adaptation
  • environmental association analysis
  • insects


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