Population level genetic differentiation among temperate Neoconocephalus katydids
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Recent work indicates that radiation events may play a significant role in shaping species diversity across entire continents. Here we quantify population level genetic differentiation in several species of Neoconocephalus katydids in order to determine the mechanisms of genetic isolation across a continental scale. Patterns of genetic isolation can be generalized into four types: isolation by resistance (IBR), isolation by barrier (IBB), isolation by distance (IBD), and epigenetic incompatibility. N. melanorhinus is a salt marsh specialist restricted to a narrow corridor along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. IBD was the predominant pattern of variation across their range. In addition, we saw evidence of two possible biogeographic barriers to gene flow (IBB), one at the Atlantic-Gulf divide and the other along the Gulf coast. We investigated the impact of IBR by comparing genetic differentiation between a habitat specialist, N. bivocatus, and a habitat generalist, N. robustus. Similar levels of genetic diversity and genetic differentiation were present within populations of both species. Genetic variation and epigenetic changes can diverge between populations in isolation. We found significant variation in total methylation levels between N. bivocatus and N. robustus. Genetic differentiation did a better job of explaining species-specific phenotypes than epigenetic differentiation. Epigenetic differentiation, although present between species, is likely the result of an interaction between genetic and epigenetic loci.