Morphological and genetic evidence for vicariance and refugium in Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico populations of the hermit crab Pagurus longicarpus

Journal Article

The number and wide variety of southeastern United States marine taxa with significant differentiation between Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean populations suggests that these taxa may have experienced major vicariance events, whereby populations were subdivided by geological or ecological barriers. The present study compared variation in morphology, allozymes, and mtDNA in Gulf of Mexico and western Atlantic populations of the longwrist hermit crab Pagurus longicarpus Say collected during 1997 and 1998. Combined Atlantic populations had significantly fewer denticles on the second segment of the third maxilliped than did Gulf of Mexico populations, and the mean ratio of dactyl length to propodus length was significantly greater in the Atlantic crabs than in the Gulf of Mexico crabs. Allozyme allele frequencies at three loci showed genetic differentiation between a Gulf of Mexico population and two Atlantic populations. Analysis of mtDNA sequence data revealed a clear reciprocal monophyly between Gulf and Atlantic populations, with an estimated divergence age of ∼0.6 million years ago. This estimated age of divergence is significantly more recent than an age previously estimated for its congener Pagurus pollicaris (∼4 million years ago), suggesting that species with a similar genetic break between Gulf and Atlantic populations may not necessarily share an identical history. Surprisingly, there is evidence of geographic subdivision within Atlantic populations of P. longicarpus along the east coast of North America. This differentiation is especially strong between Nova Scotia and southern populations, suggesting that the Nova Scotia population may represent survivors from a northern refugium during the last glacial maximum.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Young, AM; Torres, C; Mack, JE; Cunningham, CW

Published Date

  • 2002

Published In

  • Marine Biology

Volume / Issue

  • 140 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 1059 - 1066

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1007/s00227-002-0780-2