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Keywords:

  • Baltic Sea;
  • genetic differentiation;
  • local adaptation;
  • microsatellites;
  • population structure;
  • Psetta maxima

Abstract

We found low, albeit significant, genetic differentiation among turbot (Psetta maxima) in the Baltic Sea but in contrast to earlier findings we found no evidence of isolation by distance. In fact temporal variation among years in one locality exceeded spatial variation among localities. This is an unexpected result since adult turbot are sedentary and eggs are demersal at the salinities occurring in the Baltic. Our findings are most likely explained by the fact that we sampled fish that were born after/during a large influx of water to the Baltic Sea, which may have had the consequence that previously locally and relatively sedentary populations became admixed. These results suggest that populations that colonize relatively variable habitats, like the Baltic, face problems. Any adaptations to local conditions that may build up during stable periods may quickly become eroded when conditions change and/or when populations become admixed. Our results indicate that the ability of turbot to survive and reproduce at the low salinity in the Baltic is more likely due to phenotypic plasticity than a strict genetic adaptation to low salinity.