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Mol Ecol. 2010 Apr;19(8):1651-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-294X.2010.04598.x. Epub 2010 Mar 22.

Global population structure of the spiny dogfish Squalus acanthias, a temperate shark with an antitropical distribution.

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  • 1Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary, P.O. Box 1346, Gloucester Point, VA 23062, USA.


The spiny dogfish (Squalus acanthias) is a temperate, coastal squaloid shark with an antitropical distribution in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The global population structure of this species is poorly understood, although individuals are known to undergo extensive migrations within coastal waters and across ocean basins. In this study, an analysis of the global population structure of the spiny dogfish was conducted using eight polymorphic nuclear microsatellite markers and a 566-bp fragment of the mitochondrial ND2 gene region. A low level of genetic divergence was found among collections from the Atlantic and South Pacific basins, whereas a high level of genetic divergence was found among Pacific Ocean collections. Two genetically distinct groups were recovered by both marker classes: one exclusive to North Pacific collections, and one including collections from the South Pacific and Atlantic locations. The strong genetic break across the equatorial Pacific coincides with major regional differences in the life-history characters of spiny dogfish, suggesting that spiny dogfish in areas on either side of the Pacific equator have been evolving independently for a considerable time. Phylogeographic analyses indicate that spiny dogfish populations had a Pacific origin, and that the North Atlantic was colonized as a result of a recent range expansion from the South American coast. Finally, the available data strongly argue for the taxonomic separation of the North Pacific spiny dogfish from S. acanthias and a re-evaluation of the specific status of S. acanthias is warranted.

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