Permanent link to Research Commons versionhttps://hdl.handle.net/10289/14765
Theory suggests that catastrophic earth-history events can drive rapid biological evolution, but empirical evidence for such processes is scarce. Destructive geological events such as earthquakes can represent large-scale natural experiments for inferring such evolutionary processes. We capitalized on a major prehistoric (800 yr BP) geological uplift event affecting a southern New Zealand coastline to test for the lasting genomic impacts of disturbance. Genome-wide analyses of three co-distributed keystone kelp taxa revealed that post-earthquake recolonization drove the evolution of novel, large-scale intertidal spatial genetic ‘sectors’ which are tightly linked to geological fault boundaries. Demographic simulations confirmed that, following widespread extirpation, parallel expansions into newly vacant habitats rapidly restructured genome-wide diversity. Interspecific differences in recolonization mode and tempo reflect differing ecological constraints relating to habitat choice and dispersal capacity among taxa. This study highlights the rapid and enduring evolutionary effects of catastrophic ecosystem disturbance and reveals the key role of range expansion in reshaping spatial genetic patterns.
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