We have conducted an ecological test of protein polymorphism in 13 unrelated genera of plants, invertebrates and vertebrates, involving 21 species, 142 populations and 5474 individuals. Each was tested, on average, for 27 enzymatic gene loci. These species varied in population size and structure, life histories and biogeographical origins, but they largely share a geographically short (260 km) and ecologically stressful gradient of increasing aridity in Israel, both eastward and (mainly) southward. We found genetic parallelism across most taxa, and most loci. Observed average heterozygosity, H, and gene diversity, He, were positively and overall significantly correlated with rainfall variation. This result corroborates the environmental theory of genetic diversity, primarily the niche‐width variation hypothesis in both space and time. Our results are inconsistent with the neutral theory of molecular evolution and suggest that natural selection appears to be an important differentiating evolutionary force at the protein level.
Biological Journal of the Linnean Society – Oxford University Press
Published: Nov 1, 1988
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