Population genetic structuring of the king weakfish, Macrodon ancylodon (Sciaenidae), in Atlantic coastal waters of South America: deep genetic divergence without morphological change


Iracilda Sampaio, Fax: +55-91-3425-1745; E-mail: ira@ufpa.br


Phylogeographic patterns in Macrodon ancylodon sampled from 12 locations across all its range were investigated using mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b sequences, and analysed together with patterns of morphometric differentiation. Populations of the North Brazil and the Brazil currents, with warmer waters, form a clade (tropical clade) separated by 23 fixed mutations from the populations that inhabit regions of colder waters influenced by the Brazil and Malvinas currents (subtropical clade). No gene flow exists between the tropical and subtropical clades, and most likely also between the two groups of the tropical clade. Distribution of these clades and groups is correlated with flow of currents and their temperatures, and is facilitated by larval retention and low adult migration. Despite differentiation at the molecular level, fishes analysed from all these current-influenced regions are morphometrically homogeneous. Throughout its range M. ancylodon inhabits the same, or very similar niche; thus, stabilizing selection probably promotes the retention of highly conserved morphology despite deep genetic divergence at the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b.