, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 657-679
Date: 27 Feb 2011

Experimental microevolution: transplantation of pink salmon into the European North

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Abstract

Human-mediated translocations of species beyond their native ranges can enhance evolutionary processes in populations introduced to novel environments. We studied such processes in several generations of pink salmon Oncorhynchus gorbuscha introduced to the European North of Russia using a set of morphological and life-history traits as well as molecular genetic markers with different selective values: protein-coding loci, mtDNA, microsatellites, and MHC. The introduction of reproductively isolated pink salmon broodlines of odd and even years yielded different results. The odd-year broodline established self-reproducing local populations in many rivers of new range, but sustainable changes in external morphology, reproduction, and life-history, as well as the impoverishment of the gene pool occurred. Their successful colonisation of the new range resulted in specialisation manifested in the rapid directional shifts in some highly heritable phenotypic traits accompanied by increased homozygosity at molecular markers as a consequence of genetic drift and selective processes. The returns of transplanted pink salmon of even-year broodline decreased sharply already in the second generation, but there was no marked reduction of genetic diversity. Our data, as well as the analysis of the history of all pink salmon transplantations beyond the species range, demonstrate comparatively greater success of introduced odd-year broodline and permit to assume different adaptive plasticity of the even- and odd-year broodlines in pink salmon, what is most likely determined by differences in their evolutionary histories. Population genetic data suggest that the even-year broodline probably diverged from the odd-year broodline relatively recently and, due to the founder effect, may have lost a part of its genetic variation with which adaptive plasticity potential is associated.