From refugia to contact: Pine processionary moth hybrid zone in a complex biogeographic setting

İpekdal K., Burban C., Sauné L., Battisti A., Kerdelhué C.

Ecology and Evolution, vol.10, no.3, pp.1623-1638, 2020 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 10 Issue: 3
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1002/ece3.6018
  • Journal Name: Ecology and Evolution
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, Agricultural & Environmental Science Database, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, Greenfile, Veterinary Science Database, Directory of Open Access Journals
  • Page Numbers: pp.1623-1638
  • Keywords: Aegean Sea, asymmetric introgression, natural hybridization, secondary contact, Thaumetopoea pityocampa, Thaumetopoea wilkinsoni
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: No


Contact zones occur at the crossroad between specific dispersal routes and are facilitated by biogeographic discontinuities. Here, we focused on two Lepidoptera sister species that come in contact near the Turkish Straits System (TSS). We aimed to infer their phylogeographic histories in the Eastern Mediterranean and finely analyze their co-occurrence and hybridization patterns in this biogeographic context. We used molecular mitochondrial and nuclear markers to study 224 individuals from 42 localities. We used discordances between markers and complementary assignment methods to identify and map hybrids and parental individuals. We confirmed the parapatric distribution of Thaumetopoea pityocampa (Lepidoptera: Notodontidae) in the west and Thaumetopoea wilkinsoni in the east and identified a narrow contact zone. We identified several glacial refugia of T. wilkinsoni in southern Turkey with a strong east–west differentiation in this species. Unexpectedly, T. pityocampa crossed the TSS and occur in northern Aegean Turkey and some eastern Greek islands. We found robust evidence of introgression between the two species in a restricted zone in northwestern Turkey, but we did not identify any F1 individuals. The identified hybrid zone was mostly bimodal. The distributions and genetic patterns of the studied species were strongly influenced both by the Quaternary climatic oscillations and the complex geological history of the Aegean region. T. pityocampa and T. wilkinsoni survived the last glacial maximum in disjoint refugia and met in western Turkey at the edge of the recolonization routes. Expanding population of T. wilkinsoni constrained T. pityocampa to the western Turkish shore. Additionally, we found evidence of recurrent introgression by T. wilkinsoni males in several T. pityocampa populations. Our results suggest that some prezygotic isolation mechanisms, such as differences in timing of the adult emergences, might be a driver of the isolation between the sister species.