Get access

Extinction and recolonization of maritime Antarctica in the limpet Nacella concinna (Strebel, 1908) during the last glacial cycle: toward a model of Quaternary biogeography in shallow Antarctic invertebrates



Quaternary glaciations in Antarctica drastically modified geographical ranges and population sizes of marine benthic invertebrates and thus affected the amount and distribution of intraspecific genetic variation. Here, we present new genetic information in the Antarctic limpet Nacella concinna, a dominant Antarctic benthic species along shallow ice-free rocky ecosystems. We examined the patterns of genetic diversity and structure in this broadcast spawner along maritime Antarctica and from the peri-Antarctic island of South Georgia. Genetic analyses showed that N. concinna represents a single panmictic unit in maritime Antarctic. Low levels of genetic diversity characterized this population; its median-joining haplotype network revealed a typical star-like topology with a short genealogy and a dominant haplotype broadly distributed. As previously reported with nuclear markers, we detected significant genetic differentiation between South Georgia Island and maritime Antarctica populations. Higher levels of genetic diversity, a more expanded genealogy and the presence of more private haplotypes support the hypothesis of glacial persistence in this peri-Antarctic island. Bayesian Skyline plot and mismatch distribution analyses recognized an older demographic history in South Georgia. Approximate Bayesian computations did not support the persistence of N. concinna along maritime Antarctica during the last glacial period, but indicated the resilience of the species in peri-Antarctic refugia (South Georgia Island). We proposed a model of Quaternary Biogeography for Antarctic marine benthic invertebrates with shallow and narrow bathymetric ranges including (i) extinction of maritime Antarctic populations during glacial periods; (ii) persistence of populations in peri-Antarctic refugia; and (iii) recolonization of maritime Antarctica following the deglaciation process.