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Keywords:

  • COI gene;
  • dispersion;
  • fragmented habitats;
  • gene flow;
  • genetic structure;
  • larval development;
  • molluscs

The seamounts chain offers a set of fragmented habitats in which species with poor dispersive ability may undergo divergence in allopatry. Such a scenario may explain the endemism often described on seamounts. In gastropods, it is possible to infer the mode of development of a species from the morphology of its larval shell. Accordingly, we examine the population genetics of several caenogastropods from the Norfolk and Lord Howe seamounts (south-west Pacific) with contrasting modes of larval development. A prerequisite to our study was to clarify the taxonomic framework. The species delimitation was ruled using an integrative approach, based on both morphological and molecular evidence. Molecular data indicate an unexpected taxonomic diversity within the existing species names. Both the clarification of the taxonomic framework and the importance of the sampling effort allow us to confidently detect cryptic diversity and micro-endemism. These results are discussed in relation to the dispersive capacities of the organisms. © 2010 The Linnean Society of London, Biological Journal of the Linnean Society, 2010, 100, 420–438.