Despite large genetic differentiation among neighbouring populations of many freshwater zooplankton species, a macrogeographical homogeneity of allozyme variation is generally observed. A study on breeding systems in Scandinavian populations of Daphnia pulex suggested a latitudinally related cline in breeding system with both diploid cyclic parthenogens and diploid obligate parthenogens at the latitude of 60–61°N. Variation at neutral markers may be more affected by selection at linked loci in such species than in strictly sexual species. In this paper I present a study of variation at five microsatellite loci in a total of 34 populations from small ponds and rockpools on both sides of the Baltic Sea at 60–61°N. Two major groups, which may represent different species of the D. pulex complex, are defined with the microsatellites. Neighbouring populations show both similar and well differentiated genetic composition. Populations separated by larger geographical distances show only a large differentiation and a macrogeographic pattern. The large differentiation observed at small distances can be explained with small effective population size: variation at the microsatellite loci has been shaped by population bottlenecks followed with expansion in size, and possibly by selection. No conclusive evidence is found for obligative parthenogenesis.
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