Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Mol Ecol. 2014 Feb;23(2):284-99. doi: 10.1111/mec.12612. Epub 2013 Dec 28.

Population divergences despite long pelagic larval stages: lessons from crocodile icefishes (Channichthyidae).

Author information

  • 1Thünen-Institute of Fisheries Ecology, Palmaille 9, 22767, Hamburg, Germany.
  • 2Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Allan Wilson Centre of Molecular Ecology and Evolution, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand.
  • 3Zoological Institute, University of Basel, Vesalgasse 1, 4051, Basel, Switzerland.


Dispersal via pelagic larval stages plays a key role in population connectivity of many marine species. The degree of connectivity is often correlated with the time that larvae spend in the water column. The Antarctic notothenioid fishes develop through an unusually long pelagic larval phase often exceeding 1 year. Notothenioids thus represent a prime model system for studying the influence of prolonged larval phases on population structure in otherwise demersal species. Here, we compare the population genetic structure and demographic history of two sub-Antarctic crocodile icefish species (Chaenocephalus aceratus and Champsocephalus gunnari) from the Scotia Arc and Bouvet Island in the Atlantic sector of the Southern Ocean to delineate the relative importance of species-specific, oceanographic and paleoclimatic factors to gene flow. Based on 7 (C. aceratus) and 8 (C. gunnari) microsatellites, as well as two mitochondrial DNA markers (cytochrome b, D-loop), we detect pronounced population genetic structure in both species (amova FSTs range from 0.04 to 0.53). High genetic similarities were found concordantly in the populations sampled at the Southern Scotia Arc between Elephant Island and South Orkney Islands, whereas the populations from Bouvet Island, which is located far to the east of the Scotia Arc, are substantially differentiated from those of the Scotia Arc region. Nonetheless, haplotype genealogies and Bayesian cluster analyses suggest occasional gene flow over thousands of kilometres. Higher divergences between populations of C. gunnari as compared to C. aceratus are probably caused by lower dispersal capabilities and demographic effects. Bayesian skyline plots reveal population size reductions during past glacial events in both species with an estimated onset of population expansions about 25 000 years ago.

© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


adaptive radiation; generation time; larval dispersal; notothenioids; population genetics

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

Publication Types, MeSH Terms, Substances, Secondary Source ID

Publication Types

MeSH Terms


Secondary Source ID

PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Wiley
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk