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Phylogeography of the Pantropical Sea Urchin Eucidaris in Relation to Land Barriers and Ocean Currents

H. A. Lessios, B. D. Kessing, D. R. Robertson and G. Paulay
Evolution
Vol. 53, No. 3 (Jun., 1999), pp. 806-817
DOI: 10.2307/2640720
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2640720
Page Count: 12
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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.
Phylogeography of the Pantropical Sea Urchin Eucidaris in Relation to Land Barriers and Ocean Currents
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Abstract

The pantropical sea urchin genus Eucidaris contains four currently recognized species, all of them allopatric: E. metularia in the Indo-West Pacific, E. thouarsi in the eastern Pacific, E. tribuloides in both the western and eastern Atlantic, and E. clavata at the central Atlantic islands of Ascension and St. Helena. We sequenced a 640-bp region of the cytochrome oxidase I (COI) gene of mitochondrial DNA to determine whether this division of the genus into species was confirmed by molecular markers, to ascertain their phylogenetic relations, and to reconstruct the history of possible dispersal and vicariance events that led to present-day patterns of species distribution. We found that E. metularia split first from the rest of the extant species of the genus. If COI divergence is calibrated by the emergence of the Isthmus of Panama, the estimated date of the separation of the Indo-West Pacific species is 4.7-6.4 million years ago. This date suggests that the last available route of genetic contact between the Indo-Pacific and the rest of the tropics was from west to east through the Eastern Pacific Barrier, rather than through the Tethyan Sea or around the southern tip of Africa. The second cladogenic event was the separation of eastern Pacific and Atlantic populations by the Isthmus of Panama. Eucidaris at the outer eastern Pacific islands (Galapagos, Isla del Coco, Clipperton Atoll) belong to a separate clade, so distinct from mainland E. thouarsi as to suggest that this is a different species, for which the name E. galapagensis is revived from the older taxonomic literature. Complete lack of shared alleles in three allozyme loci between island and mainland populations support their separate specific status. Eucidaris galapagensis and E. thouarsi are estimated from their COI divergence to have split at about the same time that E. thouarsi and E. tribuloides were being separated by the Isthmus of Panama. Even though currents could easily convey larvae between the eastern Pacific islands and the American mainland, the two species do not appear to have invaded each other's ranges. Conversely, the central Atlantic E. clavata at St. Helena and Ascension is genetically similar to E. tribuloides from the American and African coasts. Populations on these islands are either genetically connected to the coasts of the Atlantic or have been colonized by extant mitochondrial DNA lineages of Eucidaris within the last 200,000 years. Although it is hard to explain how larvae can cross the entire width of the Atlantic within their competent lifetimes, COI sequences of Eucidaris from the west coast of Africa are very similar to those of E. tribuloides from the Caribbean. FST statistics indicate that gene flow between E. metularia from the Indian Ocean and from the western and central Pacific is restricted. Low gene flow is also evident between populations of E. clavata from Ascension and St. Helena. Rates of intraspecific exchange of genes in E. thouarsi, E. galapagensis, and E. tribuloides, on the other hand, are high. The phylogeny of Eucidaris confirms Ernst Mayr's conclusions that major barriers to the dispersal of tropical echinoids have been the wide stretch of deep water between central and eastern Pacific, the cold water off the southwest coast of Africa, and the Isthmus of Panama. It also suggests that a colonization event in the eastern Pacific has led to speciation between mainland and island populations.

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