A broad transition zone between an inner Baltic hybrid swarm and a pure North Sea subspecies of Macoma balthica (Mollusca, Bivalvia)

Authors

  • RAISA NIKULA,

    1. Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, PO Box 17, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
    2. Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Helsinki, PO Box 65, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
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  • PETR STRELKOV,

    1. Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, PO Box 17, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
    2. Department of Ichthyology and Hydrobiology, St. Petersburg State University, Vasilevsky Island, 16 Line, 29, 199178 St. Petersburg, Russia
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  • RISTO VÄINÖLÄ

    1. Finnish Museum of Natural History, University of Helsinki, PO Box 17, FI-00014 Helsinki, Finland
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Raisa Nikula, Finnish Museum of Natural History, PO Box 17, FI-00014 University of Helsinki, Finland. Fax: +358 9191 28843; E-mail: raisa.nikula@helsinki.fi

Abstract

The populations of the bivalve clam Macoma balthica in the low-salinity Northern Baltic Sea represent an admixture of two strongly diverged genomic origins, the Pacific Macoma balthica balthica (approx. 60% genomic contribution) and Atlantic Macoma balthica rubra (40%). Using allozyme and mtDNA characters, we describe the broad transition from this hybrid swarm to the pure M. b. rubra in the saline North Sea waters, spanning hundreds of kilometre distance. The zone is centred in the strong salinity gradient of the narrow Öresund strait and in the adjacent Western Baltic. Yet the multilocus clines show no simple and smoothly monotonic gradation: they involve local reversals and strong differences between neighbouring populations. The transitions in different characters are not strictly coincident, and the extent of introgression varies among loci. The Atlantic influence extends further into the Baltic in samples from the southern and eastern Baltic coasts than on the western coast, and further in deeper bottoms than at shallow (< 1 m) sites. This fits with the counterclockwise net circulation pattern and with a presumably weaker salinity barrier for invading Atlantic type larvae in saline deeper water, and corresponding facilitation of outwards drift of Baltic larvae in diluted surface waters. Genotypic disequilibria were strong particularly in the shallow-water samples of the steepest transition zone. This suggests larval mixing from different sources and limited interbreeding in that area, which makes a stark contrast to the evidence of thorough amalgamation of the distinct genomic origins in the inner Baltic hybrid swarm of equilibrium structure.

Ancillary