Gene flow and rapid differentiation characterize a rapid insular radiation in the southwest Pacific (Aves: Zosterops)

Joseph D. Manthey, Carl H. Oliveros, Michael J. Andersen, Christopher E. Filardi, Robert G. Moyle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


As a dispersive lineage expands its distribution across a heterogeneous landscape, it leaves behind allopatric populations with varying degrees of geographic isolation that often differentiate rapidly. In the case of oceanic islands, even narrowly separated populations often differentiate, which seems contrary to the highly dispersive nature of the founding lineage. This pattern of highly dispersive lineages differentiating across narrow sea barriers has perplexed biologists for more than a century. We used two reduced-representation genomic datasets to examine the diversification of a recent, rapid geographic radiation, the white-eyes (Aves: Zosterops) of the Solomon Islands. We incorporated methods that targeted phylogenetic structure, population structure, and explicit tests for gene flow. Both datasets showed evidence of gene flow among species, but not involving the closely spaced islands in the New Georgia Group. Instead, gene flow has occurred among the larger islands in the archipelago, including those recently connected by land bridges as well as those isolated by large expanses of deep ocean. Populations separated by shallow seas, and connected by land bridges during glacial cycles, ranged from no differentiation to both phenotypic and genomic differentiation. These complex patterns of gene flow and divergence support a model of rapid geographic radiation in which lineages differentially evolve dispersal disparity and phenotypic differences.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1788-1803
Number of pages16
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2020


  • Gene flow
  • Solomon Islands
  • Zosterops
  • great speciator
  • rapid radiation


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