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Evidence of a Biogeographic Break Between Populations of a High Dispersal Starfish: Congruent Regions Within the Indo-West Pacific Defined by Color Morphs, mtDNA, and Allozyme Data

S. T. Williams and J. A. H. Benzie
Evolution
Vol. 52, No. 1 (Feb., 1998), pp. 87-99
DOI: 10.2307/2410923
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2410923
Page Count: 13
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Evidence of a Biogeographic Break Between Populations of a High Dispersal Starfish: Congruent Regions Within the Indo-West Pacific Defined by Color Morphs, mtDNA, and Allozyme Data
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Abstract

Both mtDNA variation and allozyme data demonstrate that geographic groupings of different color morphs of the starfish Linckia laevigata are congruent with a genetic discontinuity between the Indian and Pacific Oceans. Populations of L. laevigata sampled from Thailand and South Africa, where an orange color morph predominates, were surveyed using seven polymorphic enzyme loci and restriction fragment analysis of a portion of the mtDNA including the control region. Both allozyme and DNA data demonstrated that these populations were significantly genetically differentiated from each other and to a greater degree from 23 populations throughout the West Pacific Ocean, where a blue color morph is predominant. The genetic structure observed in L. laevigata is consistent with traditional ideas of a biogeographic boundary between the Indian and Pacific Oceans except that populations several hundreds kilometers off the coast of north Western Australia (Indian Ocean) were genetically similar to and had the same color morphs as Pacific populations. It is suggested that gene flow may have continued (possibly at a reduced rate) between these offshore reefs in Western Australia and the West Pacific during Pleistocene falls in sea level, but at the same time gene flow was restricted between these Western Australian populations and those in both Thailand and South Africa, possibly by upwellings. The molecular data in this study suggest that vicariant events have played an important role in shaping the broadscale genetic structure of L. laevigata. Additionally, greater genetic structure was observed among Indian Ocean populations than among Pacific Ocean populations, probably because there are fewer reefs and island archipelagos in the Indian Ocean than in the Pacific, and because present-day surface ocean currents do not facilitate long-distance dispersal.

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