Asexual reproduction is thought to doom organisms to extinction due to mutation accumulation and parasite exploitation. Theoretical models suggest that parthenogens may escape the negative effects of conspecifics and biological enemies through escape in space. Through intensive sequencing of a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and a nuclear intron locus in sexual and parthenogenetic freshwater snails (Campeloma), I examine three questions: (1) Are sexual mtDNA lineages more restricted geographically than parthenogenetic mtDNA lineages? (2) Are independent parthenogenetic lineages shorter lived than sexual lineages? and (3) Do parthenogens have higher intraindividual nuclear sequence diversity and form well-differentiated monophyletic groups as expected under the Meselson effect? Geographic ranges of parthenogenetic lineages are significantly larger than geographic ranges of sexual lineages. Based on coalescence times under different demographic assumptions, asexual lineages are short lived, but there is variation in clonal ages. Although alternative explanations exist, these results suggest that asexual lineages may persist in the short term through dispersal, and that various constraints may cause geographic restriction of sexual lineages. Both allotriploid and diploid Campeloma parthenogens have significantly higher allelic divergence within individuals, but show limited nuclear sequence divergence from sexual ancestors. In contrast to previous allozyme evidence for nonhybrid origins of diploid Campeloma parthenogens, cryptic hybridization may account for elevated heterozygosity.
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Vol. 60 • No. 7