Genetic and historical evidence disagree on likely sources of the Atlantic amethyst gem clam Gemma gemma (Totten, 1834) in California


Correspondence: Jonathan B. Geller, Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, Moss Landing, CA 95039-9647, USA.


Aim  Historical information about source populations of invasive species is often limited; therefore, genetic analyses are used. We compared inference about source populations from historical and genetic data for the oyster-associated clam, Gemma gemma that invaded California from the USA Atlantic coast.

Location  Mid-Atlantic (North Carolina, Maryland), Northeastern (New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts) and the California coasts (Elkhorn Slough, San Francisco Bay, Bolinas Lagoon, Tomales Bay, Bodega Harbor).

Methods  The documented history of transplantation of Eastern oysters to California was reviewed. Cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) sequences from recent and archived clams were examined in a haplotype network. We used AMOVA to detect geographic genetic structure and a permutation test for significant reductions in diversity.

Results  Chesapeake Bay oysters were transplanted to New York prior to shipment to San Francisco Bay and from there to peripheral bays. Gemma in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions were genetically differentiated. In California, populations in Bodega Harbor and Tomales Bay were genetically similar to those in the Mid-Atlantic area while clams in San Francisco Bay, Elkhorn Slough and Bolinas Lagoon resembled populations in the Northeastern region. In California, genetic variation was not highest in San Francisco Bay despite greater magnitude of oyster plantings. Haplotypes varied over time in native and introduced populations.

Main Conclusions  Historical records and inferences from genetics agree that both Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions were sources for Gemma in California. Only complex genetic hypotheses reconcile the strong segregation of haplotypes in California to the historical evidence of mixing in their proximate source (New York). These hypotheses include sorting of mixtures of haplotypes or selection in non-native areas. Haplotype turnover in San Francisco and Massachusetts samples over time suggests that the sorting hypothesis is plausible. We suggest, however, that Gemma was introduced independently and recently to Tomales Bay and Bodega Harbor.