Waterfowl often have been assumed to disperse freshwater aquatic organisms between isolated wetlands, but no one has analyzed the impact of this transport on the population structure of aquatic organisms. For three cladocerans (Daphnia ambigua, Daphnia laevis, and Sida crystallina) and one bryozoan (Cristatella mucedo), we estimated the genetic distances between populations across North America using sequences of several mitochondrial DNA genes and genotypic frequencies at allozyme and microsatellite loci. Waterfowl movements across North America (estimated from band recovery data) explained a significant proportion of the gene flow occurring between populations across the continent for three of the four species, even after controlling for geographic distances between localities. The fourth species, S. crystallina, has propagules less likely to survive desiccation or ingestion by birds. Differences in the capacity to exploit bird-mediated transport are likely to have important consequences for the ecology of aquatic communities and the spread of invasive species.
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Invertebrate eggs can fly: Evidence of waterfowl-mediated gene flow in aquatic invertebrates