, Volume 125, Issue 2, pp 385-399

The Mytilus edulis species complex in southwest England: effects of hybridization and introgression upon interlocus associations and morphometric variation

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Loglinear analysis of electrophoretic data from two hybrid Mytilus edulis x galloprovincialis populations in southwest England revealed non-significant associations between genotypes at four allozyme loci, each of which is partially diagnostic for differences between the two taxa. Significant non-random genotypic associations within the context of the non-significant model involved all four assayed loci equally, consistent with their occurrence in a relatively tight linkage group. Multivariate analyses were used to examine electrophoretic variation from the two hybrid populations, and morphometric variation in the hybrid populations and in four allopatric (two M. edulis and two M. galloprovincialis) populations from western Europe While the number of hybrid mussels is high at both sites (22% at Croyde, 53% at Whitsand) the two taxa have largely maintained the genetic differences which exist between them in allopatry. However, morphological differences between the taxa have been eroded for mussels within the hybrid zone, whereas these differences are quite pronounced for mussels from allopatric populations. It is proposed that each taxon within the genus maintains its genetic identity, despite high dispersal potential, widespread hybridization, and high levels of introgression, as a result of adaptation to different environments. The worlwide occurrence of all four Mytilus hybrid zones at ecotones between recognized biogeographical provinces which are characterized by differences in temperature and salinity is consistent with such an interpretation.

Communicated by G.F. Humphrey, Sydney