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We used comparative landscape genetics to examine the relative roles of historical events, intrinsic traits and landscape factors in determining the distribution of genetic diversity of river fishes across the North American Great Plains. Spatial patterns of diversity were overlaid on a patch-based graphical model and then compared within and among three species that co-occurred across five Great Plains watersheds. Species differing in reproductive strategy (benthic vs. pelagic-spawning) were hypothesized to have different patterns of genetic diversity, but the overriding factor shaping contemporary patterns of diversity was the signature of past climates and geological history. Allelic diversity was significantly higher at southern latitudes for Cyprinella lutrensis and Hybognathus placitus, consistent with northward expansion from southern Pleistocene refugia.
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