Multiple mechanisms contribute to isolation-by-environment in the redheaded pine sawfly, Neodiprion lecontei

  • Robin Bagley (Contributor)
  • John Terbot (Contributor)
  • Christopher Frost (Contributor)
  • Catherine Linnen (Contributor)



Isolation by environment (IBE) is a population genomic pattern that arises when ecological barriers reduce gene flow between populations. Although current evidence suggests IBE is common in nature, few studies have evaluated the underlying mechanisms that generate IBE patterns. In this study, we evaluate five proposed mechanisms of IBE (natural selection against immigrants, sexual selection against immigrants, selection against hybrids, biased dispersal, environment-based phenological differences) that may give rise to host-associated differentiation within a sympatric population of the redheaded pine sawfly, Neodiprion lecontei, a species for which IBE has previously been detected. We first characterize the three pine species used by N. lecontei at the site, finding morphological and chemical differences among the hosts that could generate divergent selection on sawfly host-use traits. Next, using morphometrics and ddRAD sequencing, we detect modest phenotypic and genetic differentiation among sawflies originating from different pines that is consistent with recent, in situ divergence. Finally, via a series of laboratory assays – including assessments of larval performance on different hosts, adult mate and host preferences, hybrid fitness, and adult eclosion timing – we find evidence that multiple mechanisms contribute to IBE in N. lecontei. Overall, our results suggest IBE can emerge quickly, possibly due to multiple mechanisms acting in concert to reduce migration between different environments.
Date made availableJul 19 2023

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