Evolution of populations expanding on curved surfaces

Daniel A. Beller, Kim M.J. Alards, Francesca Tesser, Ricardo A. Mosna, Federico Toschi, Wolfram Möbius

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
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The expansion of a population into new habitat is a transient process that leaves its footprints in the genetic composition of the expanding population. How the structure of the environment shapes the population front and the evolutionary dynamics during such a range expansion is little understood. Here, we investigate the evolutionary dynamics of populations consisting of many selectively neutral genotypes expanding on curved surfaces. Using a combination of individual-based off-lattice simulations, geometrical arguments, and lattice-based stepping-stone simulations, we characterise the effect of individual bumps on an otherwise flat surface. Compared to the case of a range expansion on a flat surface, we observe a transient relative increase, followed by a decrease, in neutral genetic diversity at the population front. In addition, we find that individuals at the sides of the bump have a dramatically increased expected number of descendants, while their neighbours closer to the bump's centre are far less lucky. Both observations can be explained using an analytical description of straight paths (geodesics) on the curved surface. Complementing previous studies of heterogeneous flat environments, the findings here build our understanding of how complex environments shape the evolutionary dynamics of expanding populations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number58005
Number of pages8
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2018


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