Deren Eaton , Antonio Gonzalez-Rodriguez , Andrew Hipp , Jeannine Cavender-Bares
Introgressive hybridization challenges the concepts we use to define species and our ability to infer their evolutionary relationships. Methods for inferring historical introgression from the genomes of extant species are now widely used, however, few guidelines have been articulated for how best to interpret their results. Because these tests are inherently comparative, we show that they are sensitivite to the effects of missing data (unsampled species) and to non-independence (hierarchical relationships among species). We demonstrate this using genomic RAD data sampled from populations across the geographic ranges of all extant species in the American live oaks (Quercus series Virentes), a group notorious for hybridization. By considering all species in the clade, and their phylogenetic relationships, we were able to distinguish true hybridizing lineages from those that falsely appear admixed due to phylogenetic structure among hybridizing relatives. Six of seven species show evidence of admixture, often with multiple other species, but which can be explained by hybrid introgression among few related lineages where they occur in close proximity. We identify the Cuban oak as a highly admixed lineage and use an information-theoretic model comparison approach to test alternative scenarios for its origin. Hybrid speciation is a poor fit compared to a model in which a population from Central America colonized Cuba and received subsequent gene flow from Florida. The live oaks form a continuous ring-like distribution around the Gulf of Mexico, connected in Cuba, across which they could effectively exchange alleles. However, introgression appears to remain localized to areas of sympatry, suggesting that oak species boundaries, and their geographic ranges have remained relatively stable over evolutionary time.