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Introgressive hybridization and species turnover in reservoirs: a case study involving endemic and invasive basses (Centrarchidae: Micropterus) in southeastern North America

Bangs, MaxR., Oswald, KennethJ., Greig, ThomasW., Leitner, JeanK., Rankin, DanielM., Quattro, JosephM.
Conservation genetics 2018 v.19 no.1 pp. 57-69
Micropterus dolomieu, Micropterus salmoides, alleles, bass, case studies, extinction, hybrids, interspecific hybridization, introgression, invasive species, lakes, loci, mitochondria, watersheds, Alabama, Savannah River
Invasive species threaten native taxa with extirpation and extinction via several biological mechanisms. One such mechanism, hybridization and subsequent introgression of invasive alleles into native genomes is a serious concern, especially for taxa displaying weak reproductive barriers, as is the case for black basses. Black basses introduced outside of their native ranges thus pose elevated threats to endemic congeners, particularly in the southern United States where restricted ranges preclude refuge from introgression. The recently delineated Bartram’s bass (M. sp. cf M. coosae) is endemic to the upper regions of the Savannah River basin, throughout which anthropogenic modification, including impoundment, has been extensive. Non-native Alabama bass (M. henshalli) and smallmouth bass (M. dolomieu) have been introduced into this system on multiple occasions and now threaten Bartram’s bass via introgression. In this study we sampled four reservoirs (Jocassee, Keowee, Hartwell, and Russell) in the upper Savannah River during 2004 and 2010. Results from three codominant nuclear loci and one mitochondrial locus revealed extensive introgression between Alabama and Bartram’s bass. Results show that Alabama bass have replaced Bartram’s bass in lakes Keowee and Russell, where they were first introduced, while the frequencies of hybrids in lakes Jocassee and Hartwell are increasing. Hybridization involving Bartram’s bass with native largemouth bass and introduced smallmouth bass was detected in very low frequencies. Results highlight the importance of continual study over geographic and temporal scales to inform management and conservation of rare fishes threatened with extinction via interspecific hybridization.