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The distribution of divergent mitochondrial DNA lineages of threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) in the northeastern Pacific Basin: post-glacial dispersal and lake accessibility

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Abstract Aim 

This study furthers the documentation of the geographical distribution of two divergent (c. 3%) mitochondrial DNA clades in the threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and tests the hypotheses that the northeastern Pacific distribution has been influenced by post-glacial colonization and lake elevation and that clade identity is associated with certain morphological attributes such as reduction in body armour. Location 

Lakes and nearshore marine environments of the eastern Pacific Basin from southcentral Alaska to southeastern British Columbia, (BC) Canada. Methods 

Restriction enzyme analysis of polymerase chain reaction-amplified mitochondrial DNA fragments (cytochrome b) from a total of 45 new populations combined with existing data for a further 45 populations. Lake elevation data were collected for 78 localities and tested for an association with mtDNA clade by contingency table analyses. Morphological data were collected on sticklebacks from eight samples representing four lake-stream systems and tested for differentiation among populations with different mtDNA clade identities using analyses of variance. Results 

We extend the known distribution of the haplotypes diagnostic of the Trans-North Pacific Clade (TNPC) southward to mid-Vancouver Island and, for the first time, on mainland BC, in other island populations far from putative refugia, and in nearby anadromous populations. A morphological analysis indicated that the mainland population with the TNPC was not characterized by reduced spine or lateral plate (‘armour’) traits that characterize some putative relict populations on the Queen Charlotte Islands. We found a significant association between lake elevation and the presence of the TNPC; the TNPC was present more often in lakes located at or lower than 42 m than in higher elevation lakes. Main conclusions 

Our data support the hypothesis that post-glacial colonization by TNPC-bearing marine sticklebacks and aspects of lake ‘accessibility’ were important in determining the distribution of mtDNA clades in the eastern Pacific Ocean basin. More generally, our study demonstrates how processes acting both across immense geographic scales (e.g. pan-Pacific dispersal) and local scales (lake accessibility contingent on timing and extent of isostatic rebound) may interact to explain biogeographical patterns.
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Keywords: Lake elevation; Pacific Basin; mitochondrial DNA; phylogeography; post-glacial dispersal; threespine stickleback

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2004-07-01

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