Phylogeography of the Patelloida profunda group (Gastropoda: Lottidae): diversification in a dispersal-driven marine system


Lisa Kirkendale. Fax: 352 846 0287; E-mail:


In the last decade, greater than expected levels of genetic structure have been reported for many marine taxa with high dispersal capabilities. Although little-studied to date, it is predicted that taxa with poor dispersal abilities would exhibit even more genetic differentiation than high dispersal taxa. These systems may track biogeographical processes better than more dispersive taxa and, more critically, function as the ‘lowest common denominators’ in MPA design initiatives. We investigate phylogeographical patterns in the poorly dispersing, yet widely distributed Patelloida profunda group and related congeners across the Indo-west Pacific region. One hundred and twenty-five individuals were sequenced for COI mtDNA [593 base pairs (bp)] and 44 individuals were sequenced for 16S mtDNA (539 bp). Identified P. profunda group lineages are highly geographically structured, with 12 reciprocally monophyletic lineages reported from 13 localities. Divergences within Indian and Pacific basins range from d = 0.013 to 0.127 and between basins from d = 0.147 to 0.197. The latter split is ancient (> 15 Myr) and cannot be related to Plio-Pleistocene sea-level fluctuations, characteristic of previously reported divergences in the same region. Juxtaposed against this structure is genetic connectivity between two widely separated P. profunda populations that share a common haplotype (φST = 0.001). This finding contrasts with previous work in the same geographical region and cautions strongly against single taxon indicators for designing conservation priorities or marine protected areas (MPAs). Historical and/or biological factors may play more significant roles than oceanography alone in determining the genetic structuring of taxa. In light of these findings, we discuss the difficulty in deriving biogeographical process or directionality from phylogenetic trees in dispersal-driven systems. Even with a well-resolved, highly supported topology, many equally parsimonious scenarios are possible.