loading page

Uniting genetic and geographic databases to understand the relationship between latitude and population demography
  • Frank Burbrink
Frank Burbrink
American Museum of Natural History

Corresponding Author:fburbrink@amnh.org

Author Profile


Conducting large-scale phylogeographic studies to understand processes affecting population structure and genetic diversity across multiple species is difficult because the key genetic (NCBI) and spatial (GBIF) repositories are disconnected. In this issue of Molecular Ecology Resources, Pelletier et al. (2022) demonstrate the power of connecting these in the program phylogatR. This program assembled 87,852 species and 102,268 sequence alignments in a taxonomic hierarchy, yielding multiple sequence alignments per species, mainly for animals (88%), composed mostly of mtDNA data. The authors discuss several caveats with these alignments and provide flags identifying particular problems associating locality and genetic data with certain taxa (e.g., multiple localities per individuals). They provide a test that nucleotide diversity should increase with area, but find a significant relationship in only 32% of taxa with no clear taxonomic or ecological factors accounting for this. To examine the potential of this program, I tested the idea that the degree of population expansion should increase with latitude given potential environmental stability in the tropics and instability in temperate regions. In under two hours, I downloaded all squamates (lizards and snakes) and regressed Tajima’s D on latitude and found a weak but significant negative relationship, indicating a potential association between latitude and population expansion. The phylogatR database is a powerful resource for researchers wanting to test the relationship between genetic diversity and some aspect of space or environment.
13 Jun 2022Submitted to Molecular Ecology Resources
14 Jun 2022Submission Checks Completed
14 Jun 2022Assigned to Editor
22 Jun 2022Reviewer(s) Assigned
05 Jul 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
08 Jul 2022Editorial Decision: Revise Minor
08 Jul 2022Review(s) Completed, Editorial Evaluation Pending
08 Jul 20221st Revision Received
11 Jul 2022Editorial Decision: Accept
Nov 2022Published in Molecular Ecology Resources volume 22 issue 8 on pages 2827-2829. 10.1111/1755-0998.13688