How does genetic diversity change towards the range periphery? An empirical and theoretical test

Salit Kark, Lilach Hadany, Uriel N. Safriel, Imanuel Noy-Meir, Niles Eldredge, Cristiano Tabarroni, Ettore Randi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Question: How does genetic diversity change as one moves along a species' range, towards the periphery? Previous work shows contradictory evidence for an increase, decrease or no clear trend along the range. Hypothesis: A hump-shaped unimodal pattern of within-population genetic diversity will occur along the range with peak diversity in sub-peripheral populations. This hypothesis incorporates and explains some of the apparent contradictions found in the literature. Organism: Thirteen native chukar partridge (Alectoris cltukar) populations. Location: A steep environmental gradient towards the periphery of the species' range in Israel. Methods: Genetic diversity was estimated in 26 allozyme loci. Conclusions: A unimodal pattern of within-species genetic diversity, as expressed by measures of heterozygosity, is found along the range. Diversity peaks at the sub-periphery of the chukar range. These populations are located at the ecotone between the Mediterranean and desert climatic regions. Appendix: A mathematical model that explores possible mechanisms generating the unimodal pattern. The model suggests that a unimodal pattern can appear under a range of parameters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)391-414
Number of pages24
JournalEvolutionary Ecology Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Alectoris chukar
  • Distribution range
  • Genetic diversity
  • Israel
  • Range periphery
  • Sub-periphery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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