Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 8, pp 1659–1672 | Cite as

Contrasting population structures in two sympatric fishes in the Baltic Sea basin

  • Jacquelin DeFaveriEmail author
  • Takahito Shikano
  • Nurul Izza Ab Ghani
  • Juha Merilä
Original Paper


Detailed multispecies studies on the patterns of genetic variability and differentiation in marine environments are still rare. Using mitochondrial and nuclear genetic markers, we compared genetic variability and population structuring of threespine (Gasterosteus aculeatus) and ninespine (Pungitius pungitius) sticklebacks from the same eleven marine and six freshwater locations within the Baltic Sea basin. Analyses of both marker types revealed a significantly lower degree of genetic structuring in both marine and freshwater populations of threespine than those ninespine sticklebacks. Isolation-by-distance (IBD) was detected across the marine populations in both species, suggesting spatially limited gene flow. However, the levels of genetic diversity and differentiation across the localities were uncorrelated between the two species in both marine and freshwater environments. Accordingly, estimates of effective population sizes were larger and migration rates were higher for three- than for ninespine sticklebacks. Hence, ninespine stickleback populations from the Baltic Sea basin appear to be subject to stronger genetic drift than sympatric threespine sticklebacks, and the proximate reason for this difference is likely to be found from autecological differences between the two species. In accordance with the earlier studies, genetic variability was higher and the degree of genetic differentiation was lower in marine than in freshwater populations in both species.


Electronic Supplementary Material Genetic Differentiation Effective Population Size Threespine Stickleback Marine Population 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We thank Anders Adil, Janis Birzaks, Folmer Bokma, Christer Brönmark, Pär Byström, Gabor Herczeg, Agnieszka Kijewska, Lotta Kvarnemo, Tuomas Leinonen, Hannu Mäkinen, Jouko Pokela, Jarmo Saarikivi, Kaisa Välimäki and Helmut Winkler for their help in obtaining the samples, and Kari Merilä for drawing the Fig. 1. The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP/2007–2013) under grant agreement no. 217246 made with BONUS, the joint Baltic Sea research and development programme (JM), from LUOVA Graduate School (JD), University of Putra Malaysia (NA), Academy of Finland (grant no. 134728; JM), Center of Excellence in Evolutionary Genetics and Physiology (grant no. 129662; JM) and the Finnish Cultural Foundation (TS).

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jacquelin DeFaveri
    • 1
    Email author
  • Takahito Shikano
    • 1
  • Nurul Izza Ab Ghani
    • 1
  • Juha Merilä
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecological Genetics Research Unit, Department of BiosciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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