Temporal dynamics of genetic clines of invasive European green crab (Carcinus maenas) in eastern North America.
Two genetically distinct lineages of European green crabs (Carcinus maenas) were independently introduced to eastern North America, the first in the early 19th century and the second in the late 20th century. These lineages first came into secondary contact in southeastern Nova Scotia, Canada (NS), where they hybridized, producing latitudinal genetic clines. Previous studies have documented a persistent southward shift in the clines of different marker types, consistent with existing dispersal and recruitment pathways. We evaluated current clinal structure by quantifying the distribution of lineages and fine-scale hybridization patterns across the eastern North American range (25 locations, ∼39 to 49°N) using informative single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs; n=96). In addition, temporal changes in the genetic clines were evaluated using mitochondrial DNA and microsatellite loci (n=9-11) over a 15-year period (2000-2015). Clinal structure was consistent with prior work demonstrating the existence of both northern and southern lineages with a hybrid zone occurring between southern New Brunswick (NB) and southern NS. Extensive later generation hybrids were detected in this region and in southeastern Newfoundland. Temporal genetic analysis confirmed the southward progression of clines over time; however, the rate of this progression was slower than predicted by forecasting models, and current clines for all marker types deviated significantly from these predictions. Our results suggest that neutral and selective processes contribute to cline dynamics, and ultimately, highlight how selection, hybridization, and dispersal can collectively influence invasion success.