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Griebel, J.; Gießler, S.; Yin, M. and Wolinska, J. (2016): Parental and hybrid Daphnia from the D.longispina complex: long-term dynamics in genetic structure and significance of overwintering modes. In: Journal of Evolutionary Biology, Vol. 29, No. 4: pp. 810-823

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In recent decades, hybridization has become a focus of attention because of its role in evolutionary processes. However, little is known about changes in genetic structure within and between parental species and hybrids over time. Here, we studied processes of genetic change in parental species and hybrids from the Daphnia longispina complex (Crustacea, Cladocera) over a period of six years across ten habitats. These cyclical parthenogens respond to fluctuating environments by switching from asexual to sexual reproduction. Importantly, sexually produced diapausing eggs, which resist extreme conditions such as low temperatures and serve as dispersal stages, are produced to a lower extent by hybrids. Long-term microsatellite data revealed clear differences between hybrids and parental species. In hybrids, clonal diversity values were lower, whereas heterozygosity and linkage disequilibrium values were higher compared to parental species. Clonal diversity of hybrids responded to the strength of the winter, with cold winters resulting in few genotypes in the following spring. In time windows when only asexual hybrid females survive, priority effects will favour the establishment of the hybrid offspring before hatchlings from parental diapause eggs can enter the community. The constant high levels of heterozygosity maintained by clonal reproduction in hybrids might lead to their successful establishment over time, when they are able to escape competition from both parental species. Although we found evidence that hybrids diversity depends on fluctuating environments, a direct link between hybrid abundance and the strength of winter was missing. Because of reduced adaptability in clonally reproducing hybrids, multiple factors must contribute to promoting their long-term success in fluctuating environments.

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