Thesis

Genetic variation across trophic levels in a diverse lizard community

Despite the amount of attention it has received, attempts to explain the distribution of genetic diversity have not been fully successful. Competing theories claim that neutral or selective processes have a greater influence on the genetic variation within a population. My study was designed to test this empirically in naturally occurring sympatric lizard populations. Two species of herbivorous lizards and two species of carnivorous lizards were sampled, using trophic level as proxy for long term population size. Results were inconsistent with the neutral theory, and extremely high levels of diversity were found in some loci of the carnivorous lizards. It appears that selective processes may be having an important impact on intraspecific diversity in this reptile community.

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