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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2014

Genetic signs of multiple colonization events in Baltic ciscoes with radiation into sympatric spring- and autumn-spawners confined to early postglacial arrival

Delling, Bo; Palm, Stefan; Palkopoulou, Eleftheria; Prestegaard, Tore


Presence of sympatric populations may reflect local diversification or secondary contact of already distinct forms. The Baltic cisco (Coregonus albula) normally spawns in late autumn, but in a few lakes in Northern Europe sympatric autumn and spring- or winter-spawners have been described. So far, the evolutionary relationships and taxonomic status of these main life history forms have remained largely unclear. With microsatellites and mtDNA sequences, we analyzed extant and extinct spring- and autumn-spawners from a total of 23 Swedish localities, including sympatric populations. Published sequences from Baltic ciscoes in Germany and Finland, and Coregonus sardinella from North America were also included together with novel mtDNA sequences from Siberian C.sardinella. A clear genetic structure within Sweden was found that included two population assemblages markedly differentiated at microsatellites and apparently fixed for mtDNA haplotypes from two distinct clades. All sympatric Swedish populations belonged to the same assemblage, suggesting parallel evolution of spring-spawning rather than secondary contact. The pattern observed further suggests that postglacial immigration to Northern Europe occurred from at least two different refugia. Previous results showing that mtDNA in Baltic cisco is paraphyletic with respect to North American C.sardinella were confirmed. However, the inclusion of Siberian C.sardinella revealed a more complicated pattern, as these novel haplotypes were found within one of the two main C.albula clades and were clearly distinct from those in North American C.sardinella. The evolutionary history of Northern Hemisphere ciscoes thus seems to be more complex than previously recognized.


Coregonus; microsatellites; mtDNA sequences; phylogeography

Published in

Ecology and Evolution
2014, volume: 4, number: 22, pages: 4346-4360

Authors' information

Delling, Bo
Swedish Museum of Natural History
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources
Palkopoulou, Eleftheria
Swedish Museum of Natural History
Prestegaard, Tore
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Aquatic Resources

UKÄ Subject classification

Evolutionary Biology

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