The respective role of factors acting on population functioning can be inferred from a variety of approaches, including population genetics and demography. We here investigated the role of four of these factors (mating systems, population size, bottlenecks and migration) in the hermaphroditic freshwater snail Physa acuta. Twenty-four populations were sampled either around Montpellier (local scale), or at the scale of France (global scale). At local scale, eight populations were sampled twice, before and after summer drying out. The genetic structure of these populations was studied using microsatellite loci. Populations were classified according to openness (ponds vs. rivers) and water regime (permanent vs. temporary) allowing predictions on genetic patterns (e.g. diversity within populations and differentiation). At local scale, progeny-arrays analysis of the selfing rate was conducted, and size distributions of individuals were followed over two years. Results with regard to the four factors mentioned above were: (i) Estimates of population selfing rates derived from inbreeding coefficients were only slightly higher than those from progeny-arrays. (ii) More variation was detected in rivers than in ponds, but no influence of water regime was detected. One reason might be that permanent populations are not going less often through low densities than those from temporary habitats at the time scale studied. (iii) There was limited evidence for genetic bottlenecks which is compatible with the fact that even marked reduction in water availability was not necessarily associated with demographic bottlenecks. More generally, bottlenecks reducing genetic variation probably occur at population foundation. (iv) Lower genetic differentiation was detected among rivers than among ponds which might be related to limitations on gene flow. Demographic and temporal genetic data further indicates that flooding in rivers is unlikely to induce marked gene flow explaining the strong genetic differentiation at short geographical scale in such habitats. Finally, the demographic data suggest that some populations are transitory and subject to recurrent recolonization, a pattern that was also detected through genetic data.
If you can't find a tool you're looking for, please click the link at the top of the page to "Go to old article view". Alternatively, view our Knowledge Base articles for additional help. Your feedback is important to us, so please let us know if you have comments or ideas for improvement.