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Sex and genetic structure across age groups in populations of the European marine invasive mollusc, Crepidula fornicata L. (Gastropoda)


Current address: Laboratoire de Biologie des Sols et des Eaux Faculté des Sciences et Technologies Université Paris XII – Val de Marne, 61 Avenue du Général de Gaulle, 94010 Créteil cedex, France. E-mail:


In long-lived species, variance in allele frequencies over time may vary according to the number of generations contributing to progeny. Here, we investigate the temporal stability of genetic diversity and structure in relation to sex and age in introduced populations of Crepidula fornicata, an exotic gastropod that successfully invaded Europe. This protandrous species has the potential to change sex from male to female according not only to age, but also to local sex ratio (social environment). This mechanism may adjust the reproduction efficiency across different cohorts and thus decrease the likelihood of genetic drift in the following generations. Based on crude demographic structure analysis in two spatially closed introduced French populations, we demonstrate that recruitment is discontinuous. Although timing of sex change is different across populations, both populations have a similar age structure characterized by distributions of males and females changing across generations. Using five microsatellite loci, we show that both populations display a temporal genetic homogeneity and a stability in genetic diversity indices across age groups examined. Our results highlight that the social control of sex change in C. fornicata has strong implications to the maintenance of high genetic diversity by enhancing breeding across several generations at each reproductive season. © 2007 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2007, 90, 365–374.