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Consistent patterns of genetic variation in the marine bivalve Macoma balthica (L.) were found after exposure to low levels of copper, starvation, and along geographic dines. The geographic dines were related to temperature and salinity. Genetic differences were primarily found in the LAP (Leucine aminopeptidase) locus; under stress the frequency of one specific allele, and thereby the heterozygosity, decreased strongly. The degree of changes depended on age and condition of the animals; adult animals showing stronger changes than juveniles. Law concentrations of copper yielded stronger genetic changes than high concentrations. It is concluded that genetic diversity and stress-sensitivity of species change predictably along a gradient in response to environmental harshness. Animals near the southern limit of their range were more sensitive to additional stress. [KEYWORDS: Age; bivalve; condition; genetics; geographic cline; macoma balthica; metal; pollution; salinity; species distribution; stress-sensitivity; temperature Mussel mytilus-edulis; allele frequency cline; population-genetics; macoma-balthica; crassostrea-virginica; allozyme variation; selection; differentiation; oyster; polymorphisms]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-150
JournalJournal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1995

ID: 316459