For externally fertilising organisms in the aquatic environment, the abiotic fertilisation medium can be a strong selecting force. Among bony fishes, sperm are adapted to function in a narrow salinity range. A notable exception is the family Gobiidae, where several species reproduce across a wide salinity range. The family also contains several wide-spread invasive species. To better understand how these fishes tolerate such varying conditions, we measured sperm performance in relation to salinity from a freshwater and a brackish population within their ancestral Ponto-Caspian region of the round goby, Neogobius melanostomus
. These two ancestral populations were then compared to nine additional invaded sites across northern Europe, both in terms of their sperm traits and by using genomic SNP markers. Our results show clear patterns of ancestral adaptations to freshwater and brackish salinities in their sperm performance. Population genomic analyses show that the ancestral ecotypes have generally established themselves in environments that fit their sperm adaptations. Sites close to ports with intense shipping show that both outbreeding and admixture can affect the sperm performance of a population in a given salinity. Rapid adaptation to local conditions is also supported at some sites. Historical and contemporary evolution in the traits of the round goby sperm cells is tightly linked to the population and seascape genomics as well as biogeographic processes in these invasive fishes. Since the risk of a population establishing in an area is related to the genotype by environment match, port connectivity and the ancestry of the round goby population can likely be useful for predicting the species spread.
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