Genetic Diversity of Invasive Species in the Great Lakes Versus Their Eurasian Source Populations: Insights for Risk Analysis
18 Pages Posted: 7 Nov 2006
Combining DNA variation data and risk assessment procedures offers important diagnostic and monitoring tools for evaluating the relative success of exotic species invasions. Risk assessment may allow us to understand how the numbers of founding individuals, genetic variants, population sources, and introduction events affect successful establishment and spread. This is particularly important in habitats that are "hotbeds" for invasive species - such as the North American Great Lakes. This study compares genetic variability and its application to risk assessment within and among three Eurasian groups and five species that successfully invaded the Great Lakes during the mid 1980s through early 1990s; including zebra and quagga mussels, round and tubenose gobies, and the ruffe. DNA sequences are compared from exotic and native populations in order to evaluate the role of genetic diversity in invasions. Close relatives are also examined, since they often invade in concert and several are saline tolerant and are likely to spread to North American estuaries. Results show that very high genetic diversity characterizes the invasions of all five species, indicating that they were founded by very large numbers of propagules and underwent no founder effects. Genetic evidence points to multiple invasion sources for both dreissenid and goby species, which appears related to especially rapid spread and widespread colonization success in a variety of habitats. In contrast, results show that the ruffe population in the Great Lakes originated from a single founding population source from the Elbe River drainage. Both the Great Lakes and the Elbe River populations of ruffe have similar genetic diversity levels - showing no founder effect, as in the other invasive species. In conclusion, high genetic variability, large numbers of founders, and multiple founding sources likely significantly contribute to the risk of an exotic species introduction's success and persistence.
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