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PeerJ. 2018 Dec 11;6:e6094. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6094. eCollection 2018.

Founder effects drive the genetic structure of passively dispersed aquatic invertebrates.

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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Universidad de Valencia, Valencia, Spain.
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Hull, Hull, United Kingdom.
Instituto Cavanilles de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Universidad de Valencia, Valencia, Spain.


Populations of passively dispersed organisms in continental aquatic habitats typically show high levels of neutral genetic differentiation despite their high dispersal capabilities. Several evolutionary factors, including founder events, local adaptation, and life cycle features such as high population growth rates and the presence of propagule banks, have been proposed to be responsible for this paradox. Here, we have modeled the colonization process to assess the impact of migration rate, population growth rate, population size, local adaptation and life-cycle features on the population genetic structure in these organisms. Our simulations show that the strongest effect on population structure are persistent founder effects, resulting from the interaction of a few population founders, high population growth rates, large population sizes and the presence of diapausing egg banks. In contrast, the role of local adaptation, genetic hitchhiking and migration is limited to small populations in these organisms. Our results indicate that local adaptation could have different impact on genetic structure in different groups of zooplankters.


Cladocera; Genetic differentiation; Local adaptation; Migration; Rotifera; Zooplankton

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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