MEPS 562:93-100 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11926

Trans-Tasman genetic connectivity in the intertidal air-breathing slug Onchidella nigricans

R. A. Cumming*, R. Nikula, H. G. Spencer, J. M. Waters

Allan Wilson Centre, Department of Zoology, University of Otago, PO Box 56, 9054 Dunedin, New Zealand
*Corresponding author: .

ABSTRACT: Population-genetic studies of marine invertebrates show that planktonic larval duration of a species is not a perfect predictor of its distribution. The intertidal air-breathing slug Onchidella nigricans presents a prime example of such unpredictability. It has a broad geographic range, occurring on the coasts of Australia and New Zealand, spanning the 1500 to 2000 km wide Tasman Sea, despite having an estimated planktonic larval duration of approximately 3 wk. We used mitochondrial sequences and genome-wide AFLP fingerprint data to quantify levels of regional genetic exchange using samples from 16 locations across 3 major landmasses. We expected to find high genetic similarity between the closest populations but low similarity across large distances and ocean gaps. Instead, we detected a pattern of high genetic similarity of all study populations. We suggest that an extended planktonic larval phase is driving the high genetic connectivity.


KEY WORDS: Amplified fragment length polymorphism · AFLP · Marine connectivity · mtDNA · Larval duration · Onchidella


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Cite this article as: Cumming RA, Nikula R, Spencer HG, Waters JM (2016) Trans-Tasman genetic connectivity in the intertidal air-breathing slug Onchidella nigricans. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 562:93-100. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11926

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