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Faster clonal turnover in high‐infection habitats provides evidence for parasite‐mediated selection

Paczesniak, D., Adolfsson, S., Liljeroos, K., Klappert, K., Lively, C. M., Jokela, J.
Journal of evolutionary biology 2014 v.27 no.2 pp. 417-428
Potamopyrgus antipodarum, Trematoda, clones, freshwater, habitats, lakes, parasites, prediction, risk, snails, New Zealand
According to the Red Queen hypothesis for sex, parasite‐mediated selection against common clones counterbalances the reproductive advantage of asexual lineages, which would otherwise outcompete sexual conspecifics. Such selection on the clonal population is expected to lead to a faster clonal turnover in habitats where selection by parasites is stronger. We tested this prediction by comparing the genetic structure of clonal and sexual populations of freshwater snail Potamopyrgus antipodarum between years 2003 and 2007 in three depth‐specific habitats in Lake Alexandrina (South Island, New Zealand). These habitats differ in the risk of infection by castrating trematodes and in the relative proportion of sexual individuals. As predicted, we found that the clonal structure changed significantly in shallow and mid‐water habitats, where prevalence of infection was high, but not in the deep habitat, where parasite prevalence was low. Additionally, we found that both clonal diversity and evenness of the asexual population declined in the shallow habitat. In contrast, the genetic structure (based on F–statistics) of the coexisting sexual population did not change, which suggests that the change in the clonal structure cannot be related to genetic changes in the sexual population. Finally, the frequency of sexuals had no effect on the diversity of the sympatric clonal population. Taken together, our results show a more rapid clonal turnover in high‐infection habitats, which gives support for the Red Queen hypothesis for sex.