Population genetic dynamics of three-spined sticklebacks (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in anthropogenic altered habitats

Authors

  • Joern P. Scharsack,

    1. Department of Animal Evolutionary Ecology, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, D-48149 Münster, Germany
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  • Hannah Schweyen,

    1. Department of Animal Evolutionary Ecology, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, D-48149 Münster, Germany
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  • Alexander M. Schmidt,

    1. Department of Animal Evolutionary Ecology, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, D-48149 Münster, Germany
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  • Janine Dittmar,

    1. Department of Animal Evolutionary Ecology, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, D-48149 Münster, Germany
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  • Thorsten B.H. Reusch,

    1. Department of Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes, Leibniz Institute for Marine Sciences, IFM-GEOMAR, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, D-24105 Kiel, Germany
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  • Joachim Kurtz

    1. Department of Animal Evolutionary Ecology, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, D-48149 Münster, Germany
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  • Funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG).

Joern P. Scharsack, Department of Animal Evolutionary Ecology, Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity, University of Münster, Hüfferstrasse 1, D-48149 Münster, Germany. Tel: +49 2518332550; Fax: +49 2518324668; E-mail: joern.scharsack@uni-muenster.de

Abstract

In industrialized and/or agriculturally used landscapes, inhabiting species are exposed to a variety of anthropogenic changes in their environments. Genetic diversity may be reduced if populations encounter founder events, bottlenecks, or isolation. Conversely, genetic diversity may increase if populations adapt to changes in selective regimes in newly created habitats. With the present study, genetic variability of 918 sticklebacks from 43 samplings (21.3 ± 3.8 per sample) at 36 locations from cultivated landscapes in Northwest Germany was analyzed at nine neutral microsatellite loci. To test if differentiation is influenced by habitat alterations, sticklebacks were collected from ancient running waters and adjacent artificial stagnant waters, from brooks with salt water inflow of anthropogenic and natural origin and adjacent freshwater sites. Overall population structure was dominated by isolation by distance (IBD), which was significant across all populations, and analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) revealed that 10.6% of the variation was explained by river catchment area. Populations in anthropogenic modified habitats deviated from the general IBD structure and in the AMOVA, grouping by habitat type running/stagnant water explained 4.9% of variation and 1.4% of the variation was explained by salt-/freshwater habitat. Sticklebacks in salt-polluted water systems seem to exhibit elevated migratory activity between fresh- and saltwater habitats, reducing IBD. In other situations, populations showed distinct signs of genetic isolation, which in some locations was attributed to mechanical migration barriers, but in others to potential anthropogenic induced bottleneck or founder effects. The present study shows that anthropogenic habitat alterations may have diverse effects on the population genetic structure of inhabiting species. Depending on the type of habitat change, increased genetic differentiation, diversification, or isolation are possible consequences.

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