The role of propagule pressure in the invasion success of bluegill sunfish, Lepomis macrochirus, in Japan.
The bluegill sunfish, Lepomis macrochirus, is a widespread exotic species in Japan that is considered to have originated from 15 fish introduced from Guttenberg, Iowa, in 1960. Here, the genetic and phenotypic traits of Japanese populations were examined, together with 11 native populations of the USA using 10 microsatellite markers and six meristic traits. Phylogenetic analysis reconfirmed a single origin of Japanese populations, among which populations established in the 1960s were genetically close to Guttenberg population, keeping high genetic diversity comparable to the ancestral population. In contrast, genetic diversity of later-established populations significantly declined with genetic divergence from the ancestral population. Among the 1960s established populations, that from Lake Biwa showed a significant isolation-by-distance pattern with surrounding populations in which genetic bottlenecks increased with geographical distance from Lake Biwa. Although phenotypic divergence among populations was recognized in both neutral and adaptive traits, PST-FST comparisons showed that it is independent of neutral genetic divergence. Divergent selection was suggested in some populations from reservoirs with unstable habitats, while stabilizing selection was dominant. Accordingly, many Japanese populations of L. macrochirus appear to have derived from Lake Biwa population, expanding their distribution with population bottlenecks. Despite low propagule pressure, the invasion success of L. macrochirus is probably because of its drastic population growth in Lake Biwa shortly after its introduction, together with artificial transplantations. It not only enabled the avoidance of a loss in genetic diversity but also formed a major gene pool that supported local adaptation with high phenotypic plasticity.