Living in a highly polluted environment: the case of the silverside Basilichthys microlepidotus (Teleostei: Atherinopsidae) in the Maipo River basin, central Chile

Vega-Retter, C., Muñoz-Rojas, P., Vila, I., Copaja, S., Veliz, D.

Keywords: pollution, genetic structure, microsatellites, migration, effective population size


Freshwater systems are one of the environments most impacted by human activity, with pollution being a highly important factor. In Chile, several rivers exhibit varied levels of pollution, one of which is the Maipo River basin where the city of Santiago is located. The silverside Basilichthys microlepidotus (Jenyns) is an endemic fish species that inhabits this basin, thus we hypothesized that pollution has affected gene diversity and migration in populations of B. microlepidotus from the Maipo River basin. The aim of this study was to identify the population structure of B. microlepidotus in this basin and to determine if the populations of the silverside inhabiting polluted sites present differences in gene diversity and gene flow compared to populations inhabiting non-polluted areas. Using the variability of eight microsatellites, five populations of silverside were detected; three inhabiting non-polluted sites and two inhabiting polluted sites. From this, it was inferred that B. microlepidotus has been able to tolerate pollution in the Maipo River basin. No differences in gene diversity or migration were detected between polluted and non-polluted sites but comparison with historical estimation revealed an increase in the current migration rate when all the data from the basin were compared. A reduction in current effective population size was also observed when compared to historical values, and this is probably due to river degradation. Despite the disappearance of other fish species recorded at this basin, our results suggest that B. microepidotus is tolerant to pollution, thus indicating that native species respond differently to this environmental factor.

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Título de la Revista: POPULATION ECOLOGY
Volumen: 56
Número: 4
Fecha de publicación: 2014
Página de inicio: 569
Página final: 579
Idioma: English
Notas: ISI