Morphology and life history divergence in cave and surface populations of Gammarus lacustris (L.)
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Cave animals provide a unique opportunity to study contrasts in phenotype and life history in strikingly different environments when compared to surface populations, potentially related to natural selection. As such, we compared a permanent cave-living Gammarus lacustris (L.) population with two lake-resident surface populations analyzing morphology (eye- and antennal characters) and life-history (size at maturity, fecundity and egg-size). A part of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I gene in the mitochondrion (COI) was analyzed to contrast genetic relationship of populations and was compared to sequences in GenBank to assess phylogeography and colonization scenarios. In the cave, a longer life cycle was implied, while surface populations seemed to have a shorter life cycle. Egg size, and size at maturity for both sexes, were larger in the cave than in surface populations, while fecundity was lower in the cave than in surface populations. The cave population had longer first- and second antennae with more articles, longer first- and second peduncles, and fewer ommatidia than surface populations. The cold low-productive cave environment may facilitate different phenotypic and life-history traits than in the warmer and more productive surface lake environments. The trait divergences among cave and surface populations resembles other cave-surface organism comparisons and may support a hypothesis of selection on sensory traits. The cave and Lake Ulvenvann populations grouped together with a sequence from Slovenia (comprising one genetic cluster), while Lake Lille Lauarvann grouped with a sequence from Ukraine (comprising another cluster), which are already recognized phylogenetic clusters. One evolutionary scenario is that the cave and surface populations were colonized postglacially around 9 000–10 000 years ago. We evaluate that an alternative scenario is that the cave was colonized during an interstadial during the last glaciation or earlier during the warm period before onset of the last glaciation.