Ecological opportunities and specializations shaped genetic divergence in a highly mobile marine top predator.
ABSTRACT: Environmental conditions can shape genetic and morphological divergence. Release of new habitats during historical environmental changes was a major driver of evolutionary diversification. Here, forces shaping population structure and ecotype differentiation ('pelagic' and 'coastal') of bottlenose dolphins in the North-east Atlantic were investigated using complementary evolutionary and ecological approaches. Inference of population demographic history using approximate Bayesian computation indicated that coastal populations were likely founded by the Atlantic pelagic population after the Last Glacial Maxima probably as a result of newly available coastal ecological niches. Pelagic dolphins from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea likely diverged during a period of high productivity in the Mediterranean Sea. Genetic differentiation between coastal and pelagic ecotypes may be maintained by niche specializations, as indicated by stable isotope and stomach content analyses, and social behaviour. The two ecotypes were only weakly morphologically segregated in contrast to other parts of the World Ocean. This may be linked to weak contrasts between coastal and pelagic habitats and/or a relatively recent divergence. We suggest that ecological opportunity to specialize is a major driver of genetic and morphological divergence. Combining genetic, ecological and morphological approaches is essential to understanding the population structure of mobile and cryptic species.
Project description:Little is known about global patterns of genetic connectivity in pelagic dolphins, including how circumtropical pelagic dolphins spread globally following the rapid and recent radiation of the subfamily delphininae. In this study, we tested phylogeographic hypotheses for two circumtropical species, the spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris) and the pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), using more than 3000 nuclear DNA single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in each species. Analyses for population structure indicated significant genetic differentiation between almost all subspecies and populations in both species. Bayesian phylogeographic analyses of spinner dolphins showed deep divergence between Indo-Pacific, Atlantic and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean (ETP) lineages. Despite high morphological variation, our results show very close relationships between endemic ETP spinner subspecies in relation to global diversity. The dwarf spinner dolphin is a monophyletic subspecies nested within a major clade of pantropical spinner dolphins from the Indian and western Pacific Ocean populations. Population-level division among the dwarf spinner dolphins was detected-with the northern Australia population being very different from that in Indonesia. In contrast to spinner dolphins, the major boundary for spotted dolphins is between offshore and coastal habitats in the ETP, supporting the current subspecies-level taxonomy. Comparing these species underscores the different scale at which population structure can arise, even in species that are similar in habitat (i.e. pelagic) and distribution.
Project description:Due to their worldwide distribution and occupancy of different types of environments, bottlenose dolphins display considerable morphological variation. Despite limited understanding about the taxonomic identity of such forms and connectivity among them at global scale, coastal (or inshore) and offshore (or oceanic) ecotypes have been widely recognized in several ocean regions. In the Southwest Atlantic Ocean (SWA), however, there are scarce records of bottlenose dolphins differing in external morphology according to habitat preferences that resemble the coastal-offshore pattern observed elsewhere. The main aim of this study was to analyze the genetic variability, and test for population structure between coastal (n = 127) and offshore (n = 45) bottlenose dolphins sampled in the SWA to assess whether their external morphological distinction is consistent with genetic differentiation. We used a combination of mtDNA control region sequences and microsatellite genotypes to infer population structure and levels of genetic diversity. Our results from both molecular marker types were congruent and revealed strong levels of structuring (microsatellites FST = 0.385, p < .001; mtDNA FST = 0.183, p < .001; ?ST = 0.385, p < .001) and much lower genetic diversity in the coastal than the offshore ecotype, supporting patterns found in previous studies elsewhere. Despite the opportunity for gene flow in potential "contact zones", we found minimal current and historical connectivity between ecotypes, suggesting they are following discrete evolutionary trajectories. Based on our molecular findings, which seem to be consistent with morphological differentiations recently described for bottlenose dolphins in our study area, we recommend recognizing the offshore bottlenose dolphin ecotype as an additional Evolutionarily Significant Unit (ESU) in the SWA. Implications of these results for the conservation of bottlenose dolphins in SWA are also discussed.
Project description:Through the study of the phylogeographic structure and demographic history of the common goby, Pomatoschistus microps, the influence of Quaternary climatic changes on the evolutionary history of coastal and marine fishes is investigated. Because of its sedentary life cycle in Mediterranean lagoons, it is also a good model to study more specifically if the formation of lagoons during the Holocene had an impact on population structure and demography. Mitochondrial sequences of Northeastern Atlantic and Western Mediterranean specimens were used for phylogenetic reconstructions as well as divergence time estimates, demographic history and population structure analyses. Pomatoschistus microps was a highly supported monophyletic clade including four lineages. It may have appeared 77,000 yr ago, and the divergence of its lineages likely occured shortly thereafter (between 61,000 and 54,000 yr). Most lineages had polytomic topologies, low nucleotide diversity and demographic analyses providing evidence of population expansion. Each lineage was characterized by a large number of private haplotypes. Most haplotypes found in Mediterranean localities were endemic, and one was dominant. Complex reticulated relationships connecting North European, Atlantic and Mediterranean haplotypes were observed. Moderate to high population structure was underlined. Contrary to previous published studies, no significant differentiation was observed between Atlantic and Mediterranean populations, indicating that the Gibraltar Strait is not a phylogeographic break for P. microps. Indeed, molecular dating combined with the tree topologies, phylogeographic and demographic analyses as well as high haplotype diversity underline a recent and rapid population divergence during the last glacial. However, population structure indicates that differentiation is an ongoing process. From an ancestral population trapped in the Atlantic, this goby colonized first northern Europe and later the Mediterranean Sea. Shared haplotypes could have dispersed in the western Mediterranean basin before the lagoon formation, while most private haplotypes, evidencing a recent isolation, probably diverged in lagoons after their closure.
Project description:Although intraspecific variability is now widely recognized as affecting evolutionary and ecological processes, our knowledge on the importance of intraspecific variability within invasive species is still limited. This is despite the fact that understanding the linkage between within-population morphological divergences and the use of different trophic or spatial resources (i.e., resource polymorphism) can help to better predict their ecological impacts on recipient ecosystems. Here, we quantified the extent of resource polymorphism within populations of a worldwide invasive crayfish species, Procambarus clarkii, in 16 lake populations by comparing their trophic (estimated using stable isotope analyses) and morphological characteristics between individuals from the littoral and pelagic habitats. Our results first demonstrated that crayfish occured in both littoral and pelagic habitats of seven lakes and that the use of pelagic habitat was associated with increased abundance of littoral crayfish. We then found morphological (i.e., body and chelae shapes) and trophic divergence (i.e., reliance on littoral carbon) among individuals from littoral and pelagic habitats, highlighting the existence of resource polymorphism in invasive populations. There was no genetic differentiation between individuals from the two habitats, implying that this resource polymorphism was stable (i.e., high gene flow between individuals). Finally, we demonstrated that a divergent adaptive process was responsible for the morphological divergence in body and chela shapes between habitats while difference in littoral reliance neutrally evolved under genetic drift. These findings demonstrated that invasive P. clarkii can display strong within-population phenotypic variability in recent populations, and this could lead to contrasting ecological impacts between littoral and pelagic individuals.
Project description:Population genetic studies of species inhabiting the deepest parts of the oceans are still scarce and only until recently we started to understand how oceanographic processes and topography affect dispersal and gene flow patterns. The aim of this study was to investigate the spatial population genetic structure of the bathyal bony fish Coryphaenoides mediterraneus, with a focus on the Atlantic-Mediterranean transition. We used nine nuclear microsatellites and the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I gene from 6 different sampling areas. No population genetic structure was found within Mediterranean with both marker types (mean ?ST = 0.0960, FST = -0.0003, for both P > 0.05). However, within the Atlantic a contrasting pattern of genetic structure was found for the mtDNA and nuclear markers (mean ?ST = 0.2479, P < 0.001; FST = -0.0001, P > 0.05). When comparing samples from Atlantic and Mediterranean they exhibited high and significant levels of genetic divergence (mean ?ST = 0.7171, FST = 0.0245, for both P < 0.001) regardless the genetic marker used. Furthermore, no shared haplotypes were found between Atlantic and Mediterranean populations. These results suggest very limited genetic exchange between Atlantic and Mediterranean populations of C. mediterraneus, likely due to the shallow bathymetry of the Strait of Gibraltar acting as a barrier to gene flow. This physical barrier not only prevents the direct interactions between the deep-living adults, but also must prevent interchange of pelagic early life stages between the two basins. According to Bayesian simulations it is likely that Atlantic and Mediterranean populations of C. mediterraneus were separated during the late Pleistocene, which is congruent with results for other deep-sea fish from the same region.
Project description:Identification of genome-wide patterns of divergence provides insight on how genomes are influenced by selection and can reveal the potential for local adaptation in spatially structured populations. In Atlantic cod - historically a major marine resource - Northeast-Arctic- and Norwegian coastal cod are recognized by fundamental differences in migratory and non-migratory behavior, respectively. However, the genomic architecture underlying such behavioral ecotypes is unclear. Here, we have analyzed more than 8.000 polymorphic SNPs distributed throughout all 23 linkage groups and show that loci putatively under selection are localized within three distinct genomic regions, each of several megabases long, covering approximately 4% of the Atlantic cod genome. These regions likely represent genomic inversions. The frequency of these distinct regions differ markedly between the ecotypes, spawning in the vicinity of each other, which contrasts with the low level of divergence in the rest of the genome. The observed patterns strongly suggest that these chromosomal rearrangements are instrumental in local adaptation and separation of Atlantic cod populations, leaving footprints of large genomic regions under selection. Our findings demonstrate the power of using genomic information in further understanding the population dynamics and defining management units in one of the world's most economically important marine resources.
Project description:Quantifying the scale and importance of individual dispersion between populations and life stages is a key challenge in marine ecology. The common sole (Solea solea), an important commercial flatfish in the North Sea, Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, has a marine pelagic larval stage, a benthic juvenile stage in coastal nurseries (lagoons, estuaries or shallow marine areas) and a benthic adult stage in deeper marine waters on the continental shelf. To date, the ecological connectivity among these life stages has been little assessed in the Mediterranean. Here, such an assessment is provided for the first time for the Gulf of Lions, NW Mediterranean, based on a dataset on otolith microchemistry and stable isotopic composition as indicators of the water masses inhabited by individual fish. Specifically, otolith Ba/Ca and Sr/Ca profiles, and ?(13)C and ?(18)O values of adults collected in four areas of the Gulf of Lions were compared with those of young-of-the-year collected in different coastal nurseries. Results showed that a high proportion of adults (>46%) were influenced by river inputs during their larval stage. Furthermore Sr/Ca ratios and the otolith length at one year of age revealed that most adults (?70%) spent their juvenile stage in nurseries with high salinity, whereas the remainder used brackish environments. In total, data were consistent with the use of six nursery types, three with high salinity (marine areas and two types of highly saline lagoons) and three brackish (coastal areas near river mouths, and two types of brackish environments), all of which contributed to the replenishment of adult populations. These finding implicated panmixia in sole population in the Gulf of Lions and claimed for a habitat integrated management of fisheries.
Project description:Dispersal is critically linked to the demographic and evolutionary trajectories of populations, but in most seabird species it may be difficult to estimate. Using molecular tools, we explored population structure and the spatial dispersal pattern of a highly pelagic but philopatric seabird, the Cory's shearwater Calonectris diomedea. Microsatellite fragments were analysed from samples collected across almost the entire breeding range of the species. To help disentangle the taxonomic status of the two subspecies described, the Atlantic form C. d. borealis and the Mediterranean form C. d. diomedea, we analysed genetic divergence between subspecies and quantified both historical and recent migration rates between the Mediterranean and Atlantic basins. We also searched for evidence of isolation by distance (IBD) and addressed spatial patterns of gene flow. We found a low genetic structure in the Mediterranean basin. Conversely, strong genetic differentiation appeared in the Atlantic basin. Even if the species was mostly philopatric (97%), results suggest recent dispersal between basins, especially from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean (aprox. 10% of migrants/generation across the last two generations). Long-term gene flow analyses also suggested an historical exchange between basins (about 70 breeders/generation). Spatial analysis of genetic variation indicates that distance is not the main factor in shaping genetic structure in this species. Given our results we recommend gathering more data before concluded whether these taxa should be treated as two species or subspecies.
Project description:Anchovies represent the largest world's marine fish catches and the current threats on their populations impose a sustainable exploitment based on sound scientific information. In the European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), the existence of several populations has been proposed but a global view is missing. Using a multidisciplinary approach, here we assessed the divergence among different ecotypes and its possible causes. SNPs have revealed two functionally distinct ecotypes overlapping in the Central Mediterranean, with one ecotype confined near the river estuaries. The same SNPs outliers also segregated two distinct populations in the near Atlantic, despite their large spatial distance. In addition, while most studies suggested that adaptation to low salinity is key to divergence, here we show that the offshore ecotype has higher environmental tolerance and an opportunistic feeding behaviour, as assessed by the study of environmental conditions, anchovy diet and trophic levels, and passive egg dispersal. These results provide insights into the anchovy evolutionary history, stressing the importance of behaviour in shaping ecotypes.
Project description:Variation in spatial complexity and foraging requirements between habitats can impose different cognitive demands on animals that may influence brain size. However, the relationship between ecologically related cognitive performance and brain size is not well established. We test whether variation in relative brain size and brain region size is associated with habitat use within a population of pumpkinseed sunfish composed of different ecotypes that inhabit either the structurally complex shoreline littoral habitat or simpler open-water pelagic habitat. Sunfish using the littoral habitat have on average 8.3% larger brains than those using the pelagic habitat. We found little difference in the proportional sizes of five brain regions between ecotypes. The results suggest that cognitive demands on sunfish may be reduced in the pelagic habitat given no habitat-specific differences in body condition. They also suggest that either a short divergence time or physiological processes may constrain changes to concerted, global modifications of brain size between sunfish ecotypes.