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Genetics. 2003 Mar;163(3):983-96.

The rise and fall of isolation by distance in the anadromous brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis Mitchill).

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Québec-Océan, Département de Biologie, Université Laval, Ste-Foy, Quebec G1K 7P4, Canada.


Geographic patterns of genetic diversity depend on a species' demographic properties in a given habitat, which may change over time. The rates at which patterns of diversity respond to changes in demographic properties and approach equilibrium are therefore pivotal in our understanding of spatial patterns of diversity. The brook charr Salvelinus fontinalis is a coastal fish exhibiting limited marine movements, such that a stable one-dimensional isolation-by-distance (IBD) pattern should be observed over the whole range. Its range, however, recently shifted northward such that northern populations may still be in the process of reaching equilibrium. We investigated variation in IBD patterns, genetic divergence, and allelic richness at six microsatellite markers in 2087 anadromous brook charr from 59 rivers along the most likely postglacial colonization route. We observed a decrease in allelic richness, together with an increase in differentiation and a decrease in IBD in the most recently colonized northern populations, as expected following recent colonization. Contrary to expectation, however, similar patterns were also observed at the southernmost part of the range, despite the fact that these populations are not considered to be newly colonized. We propose that the loss of dispersal capabilities associated with anadromy may have caused the southernmost populations to evolve relatively independently of one another. This study thus demonstrated that changes in a species' geographic range and dispersal capabilities may contribute to shaping geographic patterns of genetic diversity.

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