Examining genetic structure in a bogus yucca moth: A sequential approach to phylogeography

David M. Althoff, Olle Pellmyr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Understanding the phylogeography of a species requires not only elucidating patterns of genetic structure among populations, but also identifying the possible evolutionary events creating that structure. The use of a single phylogeographic test or analysis, however, usually provides a picture of genetic structure without revealing the possible underlying evolutionary causes. We used current analytical techniques in a sequential approach to examine genetic structure and its underlying causes in the bogus yucca moth Prodoxus decipiens (Lepidoptera: Prodoxidae). Both historical biogeography and recent human transplantations of the moth's host plants provided a priori expectations of the pattern of genetic structure and its underlying causes. We evaluated these expectations by using a progression of phylogenetic, demographic, and population genetic analyses of mtDNA sequence data from 476 individuals distributed across 25 populations that encompassed the range of P. decipiens. The combination of these analyses revealed that much of the genetic structure has evolved more recently than suggested by historical biogeography, has been influenced by changes in demography, and can be best explained by long distance dispersal and isolation by distance. We suggest that performing a suite of analyses that focus on different temporal scales may be an effective approach to investigating the patterns and causes of genetic structure within species.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1632-1643
Number of pages12
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Biogeography
  • Isolation by distance
  • Mismatch
  • Nested clade
  • Population structure
  • Yucca moth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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