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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e44404. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044404. Epub 2012 Aug 30.

Unexpected high genetic diversity at the extreme northern geographic limit of Taurulus bubalis (Euphrasen, 1786).

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Eco-Ethology Research Unit, ISPA University Institute, Lisboa, Portugal.


The longspined bullhead (Taurulus bubalis, Euphrasen 1786) belongs to the family Cottidae and is a rocky shore species that inhabits the intertidal zones of the Eastern Atlantic since Iceland, southward to Portugal and also the North Sea and Baltic, northward to the Gulf of Finland, with some occurrences in the northern Mediterranean coasts eastward to the Gulf of Genoa. We analysed the phylogeographic patterns of this species using mitochondrial and nuclear markers in populations throughout most of its distributional range in west Europe. We found that T. bubalis has a relatively shallow genealogy with some differentiation between Atlantic and North Sea. Genetic diversity was homogeneous across all populations studied. The possibility of a glacial refugium near the North Sea is discussed. In many, but not all, marine temperate organisms, patterns of diversity are similar across the species range. If this phenomenon proves to be most common in cold adapted species, it may reflect the availability of glacial refugia not far from their present-day northern limits.

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