Evidence of genetic selection for growth in new recruits of a marine fish

Authors

  • S. PLANES,

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    1. Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes — ESA CNRS 8046, Laboratoire d’Ichtyoécologie Tropicale et Mediterraneenne, Université de Perpignan, F-66860 Perpignan cedex, France
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  • P. ROMANS

    1. Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes — ESA CNRS 8046, Laboratoire d’Ichtyoécologie Tropicale et Mediterraneenne, Université de Perpignan, F-66860 Perpignan cedex, France
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Serge Planes. Tel.: +33 4 68 66 20 55; Fax: +33 4 68 50 36 86; E-mail: planes@univ-perp.fr

Abstract

A cohort of Diplodus sargus, a coastal marine fish abundant in the Mediterranean Sea, has been surveyed from its settlement following the pelagic larval stage up to 4 months of age, when the juveniles are moving to adult habitats in order to assess selective processes. We followed the mortality by looking at the decrease in population abundance and, simultaneously, the genetic structure using allozymes and the growth associated with each genotype to test for a relationship between genotype and phenotype. The recruitment survey demonstrated that 80% of individuals arrived within a single night and that they show very similar age providing a discrete pulse of new recruits that we followed for changes in survival and allele frequencies. After 4 months, there was a total mortality of 80.8%, with the disappearance of 181 of 224 fish that initially colonized the rocky barrier. The decrease in number followed a logarithmic model with a maximum decrease in the early period (first 30 days). The model derived from the 4 months of data demonstrates that most of the mortality in the cohort occurs over the first 120 days following settlement and the model predicted a final abundance of 10 individuals after 1 year. Within the same period of 4 months, we observed significant decrease in multilocus heterozygosity. Such a decrease in heterozygosity partly resulted from a purge of the Pgm-80* allele. Together with this major change in a natural population, an aquarium experiment demonstrated that individuals with Pgm-80* alleles show significantly lower growth than other new recruits. We propose that the decrease in frequency of Pgm-80* in the natural environment is the result of targeted predation that eliminates smaller individuals and therefore individuals bearing Pgm-80*. The potential metabolic effect as well as a scenario that could lead to the maintenance of polymorphism is discussed.

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