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Nearshore fish (Pholis gunnellus) persists across the North Atlantic through multiple glacial episodes


Michael J. Hickerson, Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, University of California, 3101 Valley Life Sciences Building, Berkeley, CA 94720–3160, USA. Fax: (510) 643–8238; E-mail:


The intertidal biota of the North Atlantic is characterized by two disjunct communities (North American and European) exposed to different climatic regimes during the Pleistocene and in the Holocene. We collect multilocus DNA sequence data from the nearshore fish Pholis gunnellus to help uncover processes determining biogeographical persistence during periodic coastal glaciations. Coalescent-based estimates from the multilocus DNA sequence data suggest that P. gunnellus persisted on both sides of the North Atlantic throughout the last two glacial maxima (> 202 000 years) with little trans-Atlantic gene flow since divergence, very little structure among populations within Europe (ΦST < 0.05) and some structure within the North American coastline (ΦST = 0.0–0.21). Although the ecological flexibility and high local migration of P. gunnellus could have enhanced this species’ survival across the Atlantic, logistic regression did not find a significant determinant of trans-Atlantic persistence when considering 12 other North Atlantic phylogeographical studies from the literature.