Genetic Differentiation and Estimation of Effective Population Size and Migration Rates in Two Sympatric Ecotypes of the Marine Snail Littorina saxatilis


On exposed rocky shores in Galicia (northwest Spain), a striking polymorphism exists between two ecotypes (RB and SU) of Littorina saxatilis that occupy different levels of the intertidal zone and exhibit an incomplete reproductive isolation. The setting has been suggested to represent ongoing sympatric speciation by ecological adaptation of the two ecotypes to their respective habitats. In this article we address whether or not the ecotypes have developed their own population structures in response to the rigors of their corresponding environments and life histories. We analyzed four to five allozymic loci from three surveys of the same sites, spanning a 14-year period. An experimental design including three localities with two transects per locality and three shore levels allowed studying temporal and spatial population structure and estimation of effective population sizes (Ne), neighborhood sizes (Nn), and migration rates (m). Genetic differentiation was significantly lower in RB populations (θST = 0.067) than in SU ones (θST = 0.124). Mean estimates of Ne, Nn, and m did not differ significantly between ecotypes, but local ecotype differences in migration between the two closest localities (larger migration rates in RB than in SU populations) could explain the pattern in population differentiation.

Journal of Heredity, 96, 460-464