Phenotypic divergence in an island bee population: Applying geometric
morphometrics to discriminate population-level variation in wing
Phenotypic divergence is an important consequence of restricted gene flow in insular populations. This divergence can be challenging to detect when it occurs through subtle shifts in morphological traits, particularly in traits with complex geometries, like insect wing venation. Here, we employed geometric morphometrics to assess the extent of variation in wing venation patterns across reproductively isolated populations of the social sweat bee, Halictus tripartitus. We examined wing morphology of specimens sampled from a reproductively isolated population of H. tripartitus on Santa Cruz Island (Channel Islands, Southern California). Our analysis revealed significant differentiation in wing venation in this island population relative to conspecific mainland populations. We additionally found that this population-level variation was less pronounced than the species-level variation in wing venation among three sympatric congeners native to the region, Halictus tripartitus, Halictus ligatus, and Halictus farinosus. Together, these results provide evidence for subtle phenotypic divergence in an island bee population. More broadly, these results emphasize the utility and potential of wing morphometrics for large-scale assessment of insect population structure.