GENETIC VARIATION OF FISH PARASITE POPULATIONS IN HISTORICALLY CONNECTED HABITATS: UNDETECTED HABITAT FRAGMENTATION EFFECT ON POPULATIONS OF THE NEMATODEPROCAMALLANUS FULVIDRACONISIN THE CATFISHPELTEOBAGRUS FULVIDRACO

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Abstract

Habitat fragmentation may have some significant effects on population genetic structure because geographic distance and physical barriers may impede gene flow between populations. In this study, we investigated whether recent habitat fragmentation affected genetic structure and diversity of populations of the nematode Procamallanus fulvidraconis in the yellowhead catfish, Pelteobagrus fulvidraco. The nematode was collected from 12 localities in 7 floodplain lakes of the Yangtze River. Using 11 intersimple sequence repeat markers, analysis of molecular variance showed that genetic diversity occurred mainly within populations (70.26%). Expected heterozygosity (He) of P. fulvidraconis was barely different between connected (0.2105) and unconnected lakes (0.2083). Population subdivision (Fst) between connected lakes (0.2177) was higher than in unconnected lakes (0.1676). However, the connected and unconnected lakes did not cluster into 2 clades. A Mantel test revealed significant positive correlation between genetic and geographic distances (R = 0.5335, P < 0.01). These results suggest that habitat fragmentation did not cause genetic differentiation among populations or a reduction of diversity in isolated populations of P. fulvidraconis. At least 2 factors may increase the dispersal range of the nematode, i.e., flash flooding in summer and other species of fish that may serve as the definitive hosts. Moreover, lake fragmentation is probably a recent process; population size of the nematode in these lakes is large enough to maintain population structure.

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