Genetic Diversity in the Biota of Arctic Lakes
Principal Investigator: Hebert, Paul (1)
Licence Number: 12939
Organization: University of Guelph
Licenced Year(s): 1997
Issued: Jul 24, 1997
Project Team: Chad Rowe, Andrea Cox, Jonathan Witt, Klaus Schwenk

Objective(s): Study to characterize levels and patterns of genetic diversity in arctic freshwater organisms. This work aims both to contrast the genetic characteristics of arctic and temperate zone organisms and to extend understanding of the postglacial recolonizati recolonization of North America. The Pleistocene glaciations defaunated much of Canada, but created a tremendous array of new aquatic habitats, which have been colonized over the past 7000 years from populations that persisted in glacial refugia. Past efforts to reconstruct dispersion patterns from refugia have been highly conjectural. The emergence over the past decade of new techniques permitting the rapid genetic characterization of populations has provided new opportunities for research. This work exploits these tools to reconstruct the postglacial dispersal routes of arctic zooplankton. Have shown that species are spreading very slowly from refugia and that many species have not yet reached their equilibrium distributions. Have established that arctic organisms are genetically impoverished in comparison with their temperate zone relatives suggesting population bottlenecks during the Pleistocene. Shown that polyploidy is far commoner in arctic than temperate zone organisms and we are now engaged in studies to a certain the cause of this difference.

Project Description: Our research will involve the survey of zooplankton communities in lakes and ponds of the Mackenzie Delta area (Inuvialuit private lands). Samples will be collected by either wading in ponds or by towing at net behind a float equipped helicopter. Samples will be frozen in liquid nitrogen, and subsequently examined for genetic variation. Our work aims to establish the species diversity of zooplankton from arctic habitats and their adaptation to their environment.