The stress sensitivity, determined in copper exposure experiments and in survival in air tests, and the genetic structure, measured by means of isoenzyme electrophoresis, were assessed in populations of the Baltic clam Macoma balthica (L.) from its southern to its northern distribution limit, in order to test the hypotheses that near the distribution limit the clams would be more stress sensitive and would have a lower genetic variability. The populations in west and north Europe show a strong genetic resemblance. The populations in the sub- Arctic White Sea are genetically slightly different, and show a low stress sensitivity. The populations in the Arctic Pechora Sea are genetically very distant from the other populations, and show the lowest stress sensitivity. Near the southern distribution limit, in agreement with the hypotheses, genetic variability is low and stress sensitivity high. On the other hand, in contrast to expectation, near the northern distribution limit, in the populations of the Pechora Sea, the genetic variability was higher, thus not reduced, and the stress sensitivity was low compared to ail other populations. Yet, it remains a question if such is due to gradual physiological acclimatization (and ongoing differential selection) or to genetic adaptation. [KEYWORDS: Arctic; adaptation; copper; distribution limit; genetics geographic cline; Macoma balthica; stress sensitivity; survival in air Allele frequency cline; mussel mytilus-edulis; crassostrea-virginica; electrophoretic data; allozyme variation; marine mollusks; differentiation; selection; growth; oyster]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-138
StatePublished - 1997

ID: 284142