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Evolution. 2005 Oct;59(10):2139-58.

Placing the Floridian marine genetic disjunction into a regional evolutionary context using the scorched mussel, Brachidontes exustus, species complex.

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Museum of Zoology and Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109-1079, USA.


The well-documented Floridian Gulf/Atlantic marine genetic disjunction provides an influential example of presumed vicariant cladogenesis along a continental coastline for major elements of a diverse nearshore fauna. However, it is unclear if this disjunction represents a local anomaly for regionally distributed morphospecies, or if it is merely one of many such cryptic phylogenetic splits that underlay their assumed genetic cohesiveness. We aimed to place the previously characterized scorched mussel Gulf/Atlantic genetic disjunction into a regional phylogenetic perspective by incorporating genotypes of nominal conspecifics sampled throughout the Caribbean Basin as well as those of eastern Pacific potential geminate species. Our results show it to be one of multiple latent regional genetic disjunctions, involving five cryptic Caribbean species, that appear to be the product of a long history of regional cladogenesis. Disjunctions involving three stem lineages clearly predate formation of the Isthmus of Panama and of the Caribbean Sea, although four of the five cryptic species have within-basin sister relationships. Surprisingly, the Atlantic clade was also found to be widespread in the southern Caribbean, and ancestral demography calculations through time for Atlantic coast-specific genotypes are consistent with a northward range extension after the last glacial maximum. Our new data seriously undermine the hypothesis of a Floridian vicariant genesis and imply that the scorched mussel Gulf/Atlantic disjunction represents a case of geographic and temporal pseudocongruence. All five Caribbean Basin cryptic species exhibited an intriguing pattern of predominantly allopatric distribution characterized by distinct geographic areas of ecological dominance, often adjoining those of sister taxa. This pattern of distribution is consistent with allopatric speciation origins, coupled with restricted postspeciation range extensions. Several lines of indirect evidence favor the hypothesis that the predominantly allopatric distributions are maintained over evolutionary time scales, primarily by postrecruitment ecological filters rather than by oceanographic barriers to larval-mediated gene flow.

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