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Journal Article

Genetic Structure of Giant Clam (Tridacna maxima) Populations in the West Pacific is Not Consistent with Dispersal by Present-Day Ocean Currents

John A. H. Benzie and Suzanne T. Williams
Evolution
Vol. 51, No. 3 (Jun., 1997), pp. 768-783
DOI: 10.2307/2411153
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2411153
Page Count: 16
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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.
Genetic Structure of Giant Clam (Tridacna maxima) Populations in the West Pacific is Not Consistent with Dispersal by Present-Day Ocean Currents
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Abstract

The-Pacific marine biota, particularly species with long planktonic larval stages, are thought to disperse widely throughout the Pacific via ocean currents. The little genetic data available to date has supported this view in that little or no significant regional differentiation of populations has been found over large geographical distances. However, recent data from giant clams has demonstrated not only significant regional differentiation of populations, but routes of gene flow that run perpendicular to the main present-day ocean currents. Extensive surveys of genetic variation at eight polymorphic loci in 19 populations of the giant clam Tridacna maxima, sampled throughout the West and Central Pacific, confirmed that the patterns of variation seen so far in T. gigas were not unique to that species, and may reflect a fundamental genetic structuring of shallow-water marine taxa. Populations of T. maxima within highly connected reef systems like the Great Barrier Reef were panmictic (average FST < 0.003), but highly significant genetic differences between reef groups on different archipelagos (average FST = 0.084) and between West and Central Pacific regions (average FST = 0.156) were found. Inferred gene flow was high (Nem usually > 5) between the Philippines and the Great Barrier Reef, between the Philippines and Melanesia (the Solomon Islands and Fiji), and between the Philippines and the Central Pacific island groups (Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Tuvalu and Cook Islands). Gene flow was low between these three sets of island chains (Nem < 2). These routes of gene flow are perpendicular to present-day ocean currents. It is suggested that the spatial patterns of gene frequencies reflect past episodes of dispersal at times of lower sea levels which have not been erased by subsequent dispersal by present-day circulation. The patterns are consistent with extensive dispersal of marine species in the Pacific, and with traditional views of dispersal from the Indo-Malay region. However, they demonstrate that dispersal along present-day ocean surface currents cannot be assumed, that other mechanisms may operate today or that major dispersal events are intermittent (perhaps separated by several thousands of years), and that the nature and timing of dispersal of Pacific marine species is more complex than has been thought.

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