Patterns of co-existence and hybridisation between narrowly endemic (Fundulus euryzonus) and broadly distributed (F. olivaceus) topminnows in a riverine contact zone
Two ecologically similar topminnow species (Fundulus olivaceus and F. euryzonus) were studied in a contact zone in the West Fork of the Amite River of the Lake Pontchartrain drainage. We assessed whether relative abundance and measures of fitness of each species, and their hybrids, were correlated with predictable abiotic or biotic factors. We sampled the full fish assemblage and measured a suite of local and landscape level environmental characteristics at ten sites. Topminnows were genotyped to identify individuals of hybrid ancestry. We compared the abundance and distribution of parental species in the context of overall fish assemblage structure and environmental variables. Hybridisation was generally rare with only nine of 244 genotyped topminnows exhibiting evidence of hybrid ancestry. The relative abundance of the two topminnows was related to site assemblage structure, species diversity and a number of local but not landscape level environmental variables. Both species were in better condition and females were more fecund at sites with greater abundance of F. olivaceus. Hybrid individuals were not morphological or ecological intermediates.