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Population structure and genetic variance among local populations of an non-native earthworm species in Minnesota, USA

Citation

Schaefer, Ina (2022), Population structure and genetic variance among local populations of an non-native earthworm species in Minnesota, USA, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.w0vt4b8v2

Abstract

A variety of human activities have been identified as driving factors for the release and spread of invasive earthworm species in North America. Population genetic markers can help to identify locally relevant anthropogenic vectors and provide insights into the processes of population dispersal and establishment. We sampled the invasive European earthworm species Lumbricus terrestris at nine sites and several bait shops within the metropolitan area of Minneapolis-St. Paul in Minnesota, USA. We used microsatellite markers to infer genetic diversity and population structure, and 16S rDNA to address multiple introduction events, including bait dumping, which is a common source of L. terrestris introductions into the wild. Our results indicate multiple introductions but not from current bait dumping. Overall, genetic structure was low and earthworms >5000 m apart were genetically differentiated, except for one sampling location, indicating jump-dispersal followed by population establishment. Further, earthworms at one location north of Minneapolis established from one or few founder individuals, suggesting that earthworm invasions are ongoing. We therefore encourage further monitoring of earthworm populations using molecular markers, in order to disentangle the different human-related vectors contributing to the spread of earthworms and their establishment, which is essential to develop adequate management strategies.