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Genetic structure of Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico populations of sea bass, menhaden, and sturgeon: Influence of zoogeographic factors and life-history patterns


To assess the influence of zoogeographic factors and life-history parameters (effective population size, generation length, and dispersal) on the evolutionary genetic structure of marine fishes in the southeastern USA, phylogeographic patterns of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) were compared between disjunct Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico populations in three coastal marine fishes whose juveniles require an estuarine or freshwater habitat for development. Black sea bass (Centropristis striata), menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus and B. patronus) and sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrhynchus) samples were collected between 1986 and 1988. All species showed significant haplotype frequency differences between the Atlantic and Gulf, but the magnitude and distribution of mtDNA variation differed greatly among these taxa: sea bass showed little within-region mtDNA polymorphism and a clear phylogenetic distinction between the Atlantic and Gulf; menhaden showed extensive within-region polymorphism and a paraphyletic relationship between Atlantic and Gulf populations; and sturgeon exhibited very low mtDNA diversity both within regions and overall. Evolutionary effective sizes of the female populations (Nf(e)) estimated from the mtDNA data ranged from Nf(e) = 50 (Gulf of Mexico sturgeon) to Nf(e) = 800 000 (Atlantic menhaden), and showed a strong rank-order agreement with the current-day census sizes of these species. The relationship between Nf(e) and the estimated times of divergence (t) among mtDNA lineages (from conventional clock calibrations) predicts the observed phylogenetic distinction between Atlantic and Gulf sea bass, as well as the paraphyletic pattern in menhaden, provided the populations have been separated by the same long-standing zoogeographic barriers thought to have influenced other coastal taxa in the southeastern USA. However, vicariant scenarios alone cannot explain other phylogenetic aspects of the menhaden (and sturgeon) mtDNA data and, for these species, recent gene flow between the Atlantic and Gulf coasts is strongly implicated. These data are relevant to management and conservation issues for these species. © 1990 Springer-Verlag.

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