The distribution of genetic diversity within and among populations in relation to species' geographic ranges is important to understanding processes of evolution, speciation, and biogeography. One hypothesis predicts that natural populations at geographic range margins will have lower genetic diversity relative to those located centrally in species' distributions owing to a link between geographic and environmental marginality; alternatively, genetic variation may be unrelated with geographic marginality via decoupling of geographic and environmental marginality. We investigate the predictivity of geographic patterns of genetic variation based on geographic and environmental marginality using published genetic diversity data for 40 species (insects, plants, birds, mammals, worms). Only about half of species showed positive relationships between geographic and environmental marginality. Three analyses (sign test, multiple linear regression, and meta-analysis of correlation effect sizes) showed a negative relationship between genetic diversity and distance to environmental niche centroid, but no consistent relationship of genetic diversity with distance to geographic range center.
- Central-peripheral hypothesis
- Ecological niche
- Genetic diversity
- Geographic range