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Keywords:

  • Antarctica;
  • crinoid;
  • cryptic species;
  • gene flow;
  • haplotype diversity;
  • refugia

Abstract

Sampling at appropriate spatial scales in the Southern Ocean is logistically challenging and may influence estimates of diversity by missing intermediate representatives. With the assistance of sampling efforts especially influenced by the International Polar Year 2007–2008, we gathered nearly 1500 specimens of the crinoid species Promachocrinus kerguelensis from around Antarctica. We used phylogeographic and phylogenetic tools to assess its genetic diversity, demographic history and evolutionary relationships. Six phylogroups (A–F) identified in an earlier study are corroborated here, with the addition of one new phylogroup (E2). All phylogroups are circumpolar, sympatric and eurybathic. The phylogeny of Promachocrinus phylogroups reveals two principal clades that may represent two different cryptic species with contrasting demographic histories. Genetic diversity indices vary dramatically within phylogroups, and within populations, suggesting multiple glacial refugia in the Southern Ocean: on the Kerguelen Plateau, in the East Weddell Sea and the South Shetland Islands (Atlantic sector), and on the East Antarctic continental shelf in the Dumont d’Urville Sea and Ross Sea. The inferences of gene flow vary among the phylogroups, showing discordant spatial patterns. Phylogroup A is the only one found in the Sub-Antarctic region, although without evident connectivity between Bouvet and Kerguelen populations. The Scotia Arc region shows high levels of connectivity between populations in most of the phylogroups, and barriers to gene flow are evident in East Antarctica.