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The geographic scale of speciation in a marine snail with high dispersal potential

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Abstract Aim 

We use the Stramonita haemastoma species complex (Muricidae) to investigate the geographic scale of speciation in a marine snail with a long pelagic larval duration (PLD) of 2–3 months and, consequently, high dispersal potential. We aim to: (1) delimit species within Stramonita, (2) discover the phylogenetic relationship among them, (3) map their distributions, and (4) infer the age and likely cause of speciation events. Location 

Tropical intertidal of the Atlantic and eastern Pacific Oceans. Methods 

We use one nuclear and two mitochondrial genes to construct a molecular phylogeny of the S. haemastoma species complex. We first test the monophyly of the genus and of the species complex, and then use statistical methods to delimit species within the complex. We incorporate information from museum collections and the literature to map distributions and to look for diagnostic morphological traits. We use fossils to date our phylogeny. Results 

The genus Stramonita is monophyletic and restricted to the tropical and warm-temperate Atlantic and eastern Pacific oceans. The genus is composed of Stramonita delessertiana and six members of the S. haemastoma complex: S. haemastoma, Stramonita rustica, Stramonita floridana, Stramonita canaliculata, Stramonita biserialis and Stramonita brasiliensis (new species described herein). These species are supported by reciprocal monophyly in mitochondrial gene trees, together with independent evidence from morphology, distribution and the nuclear gene. The species are almost entirely allopatric, with only three instances of sympatry. Two species have unusually wide distributions, consistent with their long PLD; one of these is amphi-Atlantic. Main conclusions 

Despite the long PLD of Stramonita, speciation has occurred within the Atlantic, both in response to barriers operating at the largest geographical scale (the width of Atlantic, but not the Amazon barrier) and at a smaller scale within the western Atlantic.
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Keywords: Atlantic; Caribbean; Muricidae; Rapaninae; Stramonita; new species; pelagic larval dispersal; pelagic larval duration; phylogeography; teleplanic

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 5BD, UK 2: Division of Biology, Imperial College London, Silwood Park Campus, Ascot SL5 7PY, UK

Publication date: June 1, 2011

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