During the past two decades, the round goby Apollonia melanostoma (=Neogobius melanostomus) has expanded its range via shipping transport and canals, extending north and west from the Ponto-Caspian region of Eurasia and to the North American Great Lakes. Exotic populations of the round goby have been very successful in the Baltic Sea and the Great Lakes regions, exerting significant ecological changes. Our study evaluates the population genetic and biogeographical structure of the round goby across its native and nonindigenous ranges, in light of geological history and its expansion pathways. We analyzed seven new nuclear microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b gene sequences from 432 individuals in 22 locations. Population structure was tested using FST-analogs, phylogenetic trees, clustering diagrams, Bayesian assignment tests and nested clade analyses. Results show that native populations in the Black vs. the Caspian Sea basins diverge by 1.4% and c. 350 000 years, corresponding to closure of their prior connections and supporting the taxonomic separation of the Black Sea A. m. melanostoma from the Caspian Sea A. m. affinis. Their within-basin populations diverge by ~0.4% and 100 000 years. Nonindigenous populations in the Baltic Sea and Danube and Dnieper Rivers trace to separate northern Black Sea origins, whereas the upper Volga River system houses mixed populations of A. m. melanostoma and A. m. affinis. Native populations average twice the genetic diversity of most exotic sites; however, sites in the Volga River system have high diversity due to mixing of the two taxa. Our results highlight how vicariance and anthropogenic disturbances have shaped a rapidly expanding species’ genetic heritage.
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