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To determine the effects of dispersal ability and diet breadth on population-genetic structure, we reviewed the allozyme literature and estimated genetic isolation by distance (IBD) for 43 species/host races of phytophagous insects. Subsequently, we tested two opposing hypotheses regarding the influence of dispersal ability on IBD: that IBD slopes do not vary with mobility, but that intercepts increase with mobility, and, alternatively, that IBD slopes vary with dispersal ability. We found that from tens of kilometers to more than 1,000 km, IBD is weak in sedentary and highly mobile species but pronounced in moderately mobile species. We attribute the weak IBD in strong dispersers to the homogenizing effects of gene flow, whereas in sedentary species, limited gene flow allows nearly all populations to diverge. In intermediate dispersers, genetic homogeneity is achieved at small spatial scales, but limited dispersal promotes genetic divergence over long distances. We also tested the hypothesis that IBD increases with decreasing diet breadth. We discovered no such pattern, casting doubt on the supposition that specialization promotes speciation by influencing population-genetic subdivision. Finally, we found that the number of populations is a more important consideration than the number of polymorphic loci in studies of IBD.

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The American Naturalist





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