MEPS 485:25-36 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10321

Population genetics of the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in Europe reveal source–sink dynamics and secondary dispersal to the Mediterranean Sea

Sören Bolte1,*, Veronica Fuentes2, Holger Haslob3, Bastian Huwer4, Delphine Thibault-Botha5, Dror Angel6, Bella Galil7, Jamileh Javidpour8, Anthony G. Moss9, Thorsten B. H. Reusch1

1Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Fishes, and 8Marine Food Webs, GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany
2Institut de Ciències del Mar (CSIC), 08003 P. Marítim de la Barceloneta 37–49, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
3Thünen Institute of Sea Fisheries, Palmaille 9, 22767 Hamburg, Germany
4National Institute of Aquatic Resources, Technical University of Denmark, Charlottenlund Castle, 2920 Charlottenlund, Denmark
5Aix Marseille Université, CNRS/INSU, IRD, Mediterranean Institute of Oceanography (MIO), UM 110, 13288 Marseille, France
6Department of Maritime Civilizations, Leon H. Charney School for Marine Science, University of Haifa, Mt Carmel, Haifa 31905, Israel
7National Institute of Oceanography, Israel Oceanographic & Limnological Research, POB 8030, Haifa 31080, Israel
9Biological Sciences, Auburn University, 331 Funchess Hall, Auburn, Alabama 36849, USA

ABSTRACT: Repeated invasions of European waters by the ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi offer a unique opportunity to study population dynamics and dispersal in gelatinous zooplankton. Here we followed population establishment in 2 recently invaded areas, the North and Baltic Seas, and analysed changes in population structure during a 3 yr interval using 7 highly polymorphic microsatellites comprising 191 alleles. A second goal was to reconstruct routes of recent invasive range expansion into the Mediterranean Sea. During the study period (2008 to 2010), populations in the North Sea and Western Baltic Sea maintained their allelic composition with virtually unchanged levels of genetic diversity and between-population differentiation, demonstrating limited gene flow between the 2 regions and successful reproduction in both areas. In contrast, at the eastern distribution limit in the central Baltic (Bornholm Basin), the same measures fluctuated between years and genetic diversity decreased from 2008 to 2010. In concordance with prior ecological observations, this supports the view that M. leidyi in the central Baltic is a sink population. In the area of recent range expansion (Mediterranean Sea), we observed high population differentiation: pairwise differentiation (FST ) values between sites in Spain, France and Israel were significant and between 0.04 and 0.16. Despite this differentiation, Bayesian clustering and phylogeographic analysis support the hypothesis that all Mediterranean M. leidyi result from a secondary introduction originating from the Black Sea. Our study contributes to growing evidence that multiple invasions of the same species can vary in their degree of genetic diversity and demonstrates how genetic markers can help to resolve whether gelatinous plankton species form self-sustaining populations.


KEY WORDS: Invasive species · Source populations · Allelic richness · Jellyfish · Microsatellites · Baltic Sea · Mediterranean Sea


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Cite this article as: Bolte S, Fuentes V, Haslob H, Huwer B and others (2013) Population genetics of the invasive ctenophore Mnemiopsis leidyi in Europe reveal source–sink dynamics and secondary dispersal to the Mediterranean Sea. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 485:25-36. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10321

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