Florida bass Micropterus floridanus are endemic to peninsular Florida and co-occur with largemouth bass M. salmoides in a natural intergrade zone in the northern portions of the state. In this study, we resolved the genetic population structure among populations of largemouth bass, Florida bass, and their interspecific hybrids from 48 lakes and streams across Florida, and we updated and refined the southernmost boundary of introgression. Nuclear (allozyme and microsatellite) and mitochondrial (restriction fragment length polymorphism) markers produced somewhat different results. Microsatellite genotypes alone and the combination of all nuclear genotypes resolved genetic structure among four regional groups within Florida: (1) northwest, (2) north-central, (3) central-west, and (4) south, central-east, and northeast. Allozyme genotypes alone did not resolve well-defined groups. The distribution of mitochondrial haplotypes suggested that populations from the St. Johns River drainage should be considered their own distinct group (rather than be included in the south–central-east–northeast Florida group). Although mitochondrial markers failed to detect introgression throughout much of the intergrade zone, nuclear markers revealed an expected decline in introgression from west to east as well as from north to south. Largemouth bass alleles, however, were detected at low frequencies in 12 populations below the southern boundary of the accepted intergrade zone, some of which are the result of stocking. There was no evidence of nonrandom mating or selection against hybrids in the distribution of nuclear genotypes; however, the rarity of largemouth bass mitochondrial haplotypes suggests either assortative mating or reduced fitness in the progeny of female largemouth bass × male Florida bass crosses.
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Aquatic Science