The marine midge Clunio marinus (Chironomidae, Diptera) is characterized by a one-dimensional distribution along the European Atlantic coast, where its lunar and circadian emergence rhythms are genetically adapted to the local tidal regimes, resulting in a series of ‘temporal races’. Clunio marinus is restricted to rocky coasts and thus the temporal races occur in different rocky patches. We studied 10 populations of Clunio marinus from five different regions, spanning the major rocky mainland coasts from Spain to Norway, using amplified fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP), microsatellites and mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I (COI) sequences. Star-like patterns of COI haplotypes within regions indicate postglacial colonization. A high degree of shared polymorphisms in AFLP markers suggests colonization from a single source, implying postglacial evolution of timing adaptations in relation to the local tidal regime. In contrast, no COI haplotypes are shared among regions. We hypothesize that different levels of differentiation of nuclear vs. mitochondrial markers in the source region were carried forward during postglacial expansion. Despite the recent origin of populations, all markers reveal distinct genetic differentiation between rocky coasts on a scale of 650–1150 km. Differentiation between rocky coasts is not correlated to timing adaptations, suggesting that geographic isolation is prevalent between rocky coasts and that this facilitated the evolution of local timing adaptations. At the same time there is little genetic differentiation within rocky coasts on a scale of 2–6 km; leaving open the possibility that within rocky coasts with large variation in tidal regimes, temporal adaptations evolved in the face of gene flow.
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