Range expansion by invasion: genetic characterization of invasion of the greenside darter (Etheostoma blennioides) at the northern edge of its distribution
Species introductions in freshwater ecosystems are often complex processes, yet an understanding of the nature of the introduction can inform management and conservation actions. The greenside darter (Etheostoma blennioides), until recently a species of special concern, expanded its Canadian range and is now common and widespread in the Grand River watershed (GRW). This is despite there being no evidence of greenside darter in the GRW prior to 1990. The goal of this study was to genetically characterize the GRW greenside darter introduction. Greenside darter were sampled in the GRW, the three known native watersheds in Canada, and one site from Ohio. We measured genetic diversity and population structure, and tested for population bottlenecks using eight microsatellite loci. Genotype assignment was used to identify possible introduction sources. Populations in the GRW showed similar genetic diversity to native watershed populations with no evidence for recent or historical population bottlenecks. Genotype assignment showed that one of the Canadian watersheds and the Ohio site were not potential sources of the GRW greenside darter, whereas the Thames River watershed was the most likely source. Substantial population genetic structure exists among the sample sites in the GRW. Clearly, the current widespread and abundant distribution of the greenside darter in the GRW is not the result of recent expansion of an existing native population, but rather multiple introductions into at least three sites in the GRW, followed by rapid population growth. Although the GRW E. blennioides is introduced, it harbours considerable genetic diversity and represents an important northern range extension for this species.
Beneteau, Courtney L.; Walter, Ryan P.; Mandrak, Nicholas E.; and Heath, Daniel D.. (2012). Range expansion by invasion: genetic characterization of invasion of the greenside darter (Etheostoma blennioides) at the northern edge of its distribution. Biological Invasions, 14 (1), 191-201.