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Pauli, Nora-Charlotte; Paiva, Filipa; Briski, Elizabeta (2018): Artificial selection experiments with the Ponto-Caspian amphipod Pontogammarus maeoticus. PANGAEA,, Supplement to: Pauli, N-C et al. (2018): Are Ponto-Caspian species able to cross salinity barriers? A case study of the gammarid Pontogammarus maeoticus. Ecology and Evolution, 8(19), 9817-9826,

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Recently, Ponto-Caspian species (i.e. area of Azov, Black and Caspian Seas) have invaded brackish and freshwater habitats of the North and Baltic Seas and the Laurentian Great Lakes in much higher numbers than expected based on shipping frequency and environmental conditions among these regions. Therefore, it has been hypothesized that Ponto-Caspian species may have inherent advantages over other species in colonizing new habitats, or that they are of freshwater origin. To test these hypotheses, we conducted artificial selection experiment on Ponto-Caspian amphipod Pontogammarus maeoticus collected from 10 PSU to evaluate adaptation capacity of this species to different salinities. Our results indicated that selection to lower salinity than that of population's ambient salinity is possible. Though, generation time in lower salinity conditions took slightly longer. On the contrary, selection to higher salinity was unsuccessful. Taking into account the results from this and previous studies and the geological history of the Ponto-Caspian region, we suggest that majority of the Ponto-Caspian relict fauna might be of freshwater origin and lack necessary genetic background for adaptation to fully marine conditions. Further selection studies using more species and populations, as well as molecular techniques, should be conducted to confirm this hypothesis on a broader scale. Consequently, if Ponto-Caspian relict species are of freshwater origin, the perception that they are better colonizers than species from other regions might be inclined by the fact that areas with biggest introduction frequency of nonindigenous species (i.e., shipping ports) are environmentally variable habitats which often include freshwater conditions.
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