Genetic consequences of introducing allopatric lineages of Bluestriped Snapper (Lutjanus kasmira) to Hawaii


Michelle Gaither, Fax: +1 808 236 7442; E-mail:


A half century ago the State of Hawaii began a remarkable, if unintentional, experiment on the population genetics of introduced species, by releasing 2431 Bluestriped Snappers (Lutjanus kasmira) from the Marquesas Islands in 1958 and 728 conspecifics from the Society Islands in 1961. By 1992 L. kasmira had spread across the entire archipelago, including locations 2000 km from the release site. Genetic surveys of the source populations reveal diagnostic differences in the mtDNA control region (= 3.8%; φST = 0.734, < 0.001) and significant allele frequency differences at nuclear DNA loci (FST = 0.49; < 0.001). These findings, which indicate that source populations have been isolated for approximately half a million years, set the stage for a survey of the Hawaiian Archipelago (= 385) to determine the success of these introductions in terms of genetic diversity and breeding behaviour. Both Marquesas and Society mtDNA lineages were detected at each survey site across the Hawaiian Archipelago, at about the same proportion or slightly less than the original 3.4:1 introduction ratio. Nuclear allele frequencies and parentage tests demonstrate that the two source populations are freely interbreeding. The introduction of 2431 Marquesan founders produced only a slight reduction in mtDNA diversity (17%), while the 728 Society founders produced a greater reduction in haplotype diversity (41%). We find no evidence of genetic bottlenecks between islands of the Hawaiian Archipelago, as expected under a stepping-stone model of colonization, from the initial introduction site. This species rapidly colonized across 2000 km without loss of genetic diversity, illustrating the consequences of introducing highly dispersive marine species.