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Urban colonization through multiple genetic lenses: The cityfox phenomenon revisited


DeCandia, Alexandra L; Brzeski, Kristin E; Heppenheimer, Elizabeth; Caro, Catherine V; Camenisch, Glauco; Wandeler, Peter; Driscoll, Carlos; vonHoldt, Bridgett M (2019). Urban colonization through multiple genetic lenses: The cityfox phenomenon revisited. Ecology and Evolution, 9(4):2046-2060.

Abstract

Urbanization is driving environmental change on a global scale, creating novel environments for wildlife to colonize. Through a combination of stochastic and selective processes, urbanization is also driving evolutionary change. For instance, difficulty in traversing human‐modified landscapes may isolate newly established populations from rural sources, while novel selective pressures, such as altered disease risk, toxicant exposure, and light pollution, may further diverge populations through local adaptation. Assessing the evolutionary consequences of urban colonization and the processes underlying them is a principle aim of urban evolutionary ecology. In the present study, we revisited the genetic effects of urbanization on red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) that colonized Zurich, Switzerland. Through use of genome‐wide single nucleotide polymorphisms and microsatellite markers linked to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), we expanded upon a previous neutral microsatellite study to assess population structure, characterize patterns of genetic diversity, and detect outliers associated with urbanization. Our results indicated the presence of one large evolutionary cluster, with substructure evident between geographic sampling areas. In urban foxes, we observed patterns of neutral and functional diversity consistent with founder events and reported increased differentiation between populations separated by natural and anthropogenic barriers. We additionally reported evidence of selection acting on MHC‐linked markers and identified outlier loci with putative gene functions related to energy metabolism, behavior, and immunity. We concluded that demographic processes primarily drove patterns of diversity, with outlier tests providing preliminary evidence of possible urban adaptation. This study contributes to our overall understanding of urban colonization ecology and emphasizes the value of combining datasets when examining evolutionary change in an increasingly urban world.

Abstract

Urbanization is driving environmental change on a global scale, creating novel environments for wildlife to colonize. Through a combination of stochastic and selective processes, urbanization is also driving evolutionary change. For instance, difficulty in traversing human‐modified landscapes may isolate newly established populations from rural sources, while novel selective pressures, such as altered disease risk, toxicant exposure, and light pollution, may further diverge populations through local adaptation. Assessing the evolutionary consequences of urban colonization and the processes underlying them is a principle aim of urban evolutionary ecology. In the present study, we revisited the genetic effects of urbanization on red foxes (Vulpes vulpes) that colonized Zurich, Switzerland. Through use of genome‐wide single nucleotide polymorphisms and microsatellite markers linked to the major histocompatibility complex (MHC), we expanded upon a previous neutral microsatellite study to assess population structure, characterize patterns of genetic diversity, and detect outliers associated with urbanization. Our results indicated the presence of one large evolutionary cluster, with substructure evident between geographic sampling areas. In urban foxes, we observed patterns of neutral and functional diversity consistent with founder events and reported increased differentiation between populations separated by natural and anthropogenic barriers. We additionally reported evidence of selection acting on MHC‐linked markers and identified outlier loci with putative gene functions related to energy metabolism, behavior, and immunity. We concluded that demographic processes primarily drove patterns of diversity, with outlier tests providing preliminary evidence of possible urban adaptation. This study contributes to our overall understanding of urban colonization ecology and emphasizes the value of combining datasets when examining evolutionary change in an increasingly urban world.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Institute of Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
590 Animals (Zoology)
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
Physical Sciences > Ecology
Physical Sciences > Nature and Landscape Conservation
Language:English
Date:1 February 2019
Deposited On:15 Feb 2019 13:44
Last Modified:15 Apr 2020 22:56
Publisher:Wiley Open Access
ISSN:2045-7758
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1002/ece3.4898

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