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Rapid evolutionary responses in a translocated population of intertidal snail (Bembicium vittatum) utilise variation from different source populations

Binks, Rachel M., Kennington, W. Jason, Johnson, Michael S.
Conservation genetics 2007 v.8 no.6 pp. 1421-1429
allozymes, gene frequency, genetic variation, genome, littoral zone, loci, monitoring, phenotype, snails
The artificial movement of individuals between populations (translocation) can be an effective way to increase genetic diversity within populations, but few studies have undertaken long term genetic monitoring to determine if variation introduced by translocation is maintained over many generations or whether it can be used to adapt to local conditions. Here, we report on the changes in morphological and molecular variation over a 12-year period in a population of an intertidal littorine snail (Bembicium vittatum) that was created by mixing individuals from three geographically disjunct populations. These source populations differ genetically in shell shape and in allele frequency at several allozyme loci. We found that the translocated population had higher allozyme diversity than any of the source populations and that this pattern was maintained over multiple generations. Variation in shell shape also increased, but this declined over time as shells became taller. Some allozyme loci also showed significant changes in frequency over time. These changes were not consistently towards the genetic makeup of a single source population, and in the case of shell shape, were towards a phenotype that was most suited to the local environment. Our results suggest that genetic variation introduced into a population by translocation can be rapidly incorporated and used to adapt to local conditions without domination by a single source population's genome. However, more studies are needed before generalisations on the benefits of mixing individuals from disjunct populations can be made.