Evidence for widespread gene flow and migration in the Globe Skimmer dragonfly Pantala flavescens


The global population structure and dispersal patterns of Pantala flavescens (Fabricius, 1798) are evaluated using a geographically extensive mitochondrial DNA dataset, a more limited samples of nuclear markers, wing isotopic (δ²H) data and a literature review. No spatial or temporal haplotype structure was recovered between the samples. Isotope data suggest that most samples were immigrants at the collection locations. A literature review of migration events for the species confirms regular inter-and intra-continental migrations occur (the majority reported from Asia, Africa and Australasia), with individuals and swarms dispersing thousands of kilometers over land and oceans. Migrations coincide with prevailing winds and seasonal rains, which points to a mechanism we name the “pantropical Pantala conveyor belt”, suggesting widespread gene flow is possible for an aquatic insect with excellent flying ability linked to rapid larval development.

Issue section: Original Article