Multiple origins and incursions of the Atlantic barnacle Chthamalus proteus in the Pacific


John Zardus, Present address: The Citadel, Department of Biology, 171 Moultrie Street, Charleston, SC 29409. Fax: (843) 953–7264; E-mail:


Chthamalus proteus, a barnacle native to the Caribbean and western Atlantic, was introduced to the Pacific within the last few decades. Using direct sequencing of mitochondrial DNA (COI), we characterized genetic variation in native and introduced populations and searched for genetic matches between regions to determine if there were multiple geographical sources and introduction points for this barnacle. In the native range, we found great genetic differences among populations (max. FST = 0.613) encompassing four lineages: one endemic to Panama, one endemic to Brazil, and two occurring Caribbean-wide. All four lineages were represented in the Pacific, but not equally; the Brazilian lineage was most prevalent and the Panamanian least common. Twenty-one individuals spread among nearly every island from where the barnacle is known in the Pacific, exactly matched six haplotypes scattered among Curaçao, the Netherlands Antilles; St John, US Virgin Islands; Puerto Rico; and Brazil, confirming a multigeographical origin for the Pacific populations. Significant genetic differences were also found in introduced populations from the Hawaiian Islands (FCT = 0.043, P < 0.001), indicating introduction events have occurred at more than one locality. However, the sequence, timing and number of arrival events remains unknown. Possible reasons for limited transport of this barnacle through the Panama Canal are discussed. This and a preponderance of Brazilian-type individuals in the Pacific suggest an unexpected route of entry from around Cape Horn, South America. Unification in the Pacific of historically divergent lineages of this barnacle raises the possibility for selection of ‘hybrids’ with novel ecological adaptations in its new environment.