Temporal Population Genetic Structure of Eastern Mosquitofish in a Dynamic Aquatic Landscape


Ecology, Evolution, and Organismal Biology

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We analyzed the effect of periodic drying in the Florida Everglades on spatiotemporal population genetic structure of eastern mosquitofish (Gambusia holbrooki). Severe periodic drying events force individuals from disparate sources to mix in dry season relatively deep-water refuges. In 1996 (a wet year) and 1999 (a dry year), we sampled mosquitofish at 20 dry-season refuges distributed in 3 water management regions and characterized genetic variation for 10 allozyme and 3 microsatellite loci. In 1996, most of the ecosystem did not dry, whereas in 1999, many of our sampling locations were isolated by expanses of dried marsh surface. In 1996, most spatial genetic variation was attributed to heterogeneity within regions. In 1999, spatial genetic variation within regions was not significant. In both years, a small but significant amount of variation (less than 1% of the total variation) was partitioned among regions. Variance was consistently greater than zero among long-hydroperiod sites within a region, but not among short-hydroperiod sites within a region, where hydroperiod was measured as time since last marsh surface dry-down forcing fishes into local refuges. In 1996, all sites were in Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. In 1999, we observed fewer heterozygotes than expected for most loci and sites suggesting a Wahlund effect arising from fish leaving areas that dried and mixing in deep-water refuges.