Pleistocene glaciation events shape genetic structure across the range of the American lobster, Homarus americanus


E. Kenchington, Fax: 1-902-426-1862; E-mail:


A north/south discontinuity along the northeastern coast of North America in the genetic structure of the American lobster (Homarus americanus) was detected using a suite of 13 microsatellite loci assessed using spatial analyses. Population genetic data laid over existing data on physiographic changes and sea-surface temperatures were used to reconstruct the Pleistocene distribution of this species. A postglacial northern-edge colonization model best explains the relative genetic homogeneity of the northern region compared to the southern region centred in the Gulf of Maine. Population genetic analyses identified significant structure (range of standardized theta 0–0.02) but no significant evidence for isolation by distance. The novel application of spatial genetic analyses to a marine species allowed us to interpret these results by providing a greater insight into the evolutionary factors responsible for shaping the genetic structure of this species throughout is natural range.