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Proc Biol Sci. 2005 Nov 22;272(1579):2379-87.

An invasive lineage of sculpins, Cottus sp. (Pisces, Teleostei) in the Rhine with new habitat adaptations has originated from hybridization between old phylogeographic groups.

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  • 1Insitut für Genetik der Universität zu Köln, Weyertal 121, 50931 Köln, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Proc Biol Sci. 2008 Dec 22;275(1653):2897.


Fish abundance surveys in the Rhine system have shown in the past two decades that there is a rapid upriver invasion of a freshwater sculpin of the genus Cottus. These fish are found in habitats that are atypical for the known species Cottus gobio, which is confined to small cold streams within the Rhine drainage. Phylogeographic analysis based on mitochondrial haplotypes and diagnostic single nucleotide polymorphisms indicates that the invasive sculpins are hybrids between two old lineages from the River Scheldt drainage and the River Rhine drainage, although it is morphologically more similar to the Scheldt sculpins. Most importantly, however, the invasive population possesses a unique ecological potential that does not occur in either of the source populations from the Rhine or the Scheldt, which allows the colonization of new habitats that have previously been free of sculpins. Microsatellite analysis shows that the new lineage is genetically intermediate between the old lineages and that it forms a distinct genetic group across its whole expansion range. We conclude that hybridization between long separated groups has lead to the fast emergence of a new, adaptationally distinct sculpin lineage.

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