Reproduction, ecology, and evolution of the Indo-Pacific limpet Scutellastra flexuosa
Scutellastra flexuosa (Quoy and Gaimard, 1834) was studied at Temae islet reef on Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia between 1998 and 2001 to compare and contrast the respective roles of deep phyletic history with recent adaptations in shaping its current ecological and life history characteristics. Most of the characters examined are consistent with related specialist species and are therefore determined by ancestry. These characteristics include habitat restriction, algal gardening, local distribution, home site fidelity, adult/juvenile differentiation, and protandric hermaphroditism. The only character that appears autapomorphic and a possible adaptation to its proximal setting is its small body size. Large body size is often associated with species that maintain and defend territories. However, the variance in size in clades with and without territorial species presents a more complex picture. The putative size reduction of S. flexuosa has not affected many of the specialized traits shared within its lineage and it remains a classic territorial taxon albeit in miniature. The phyletic pattern that emerges here is one of a clade dominated by specialist species that gave rise to generalist species that in turn gave rise to another group of specialists with identical traits albeit in different habitats.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2007-09-01
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