Marine Biology

, Volume 151, Issue 1, pp 147–155 | Cite as

Lack of mtDNA and morphological differentiation between two acorn barnacles Tetraclita japonica and T. formosana differing in parietes colours and geographical distribution

  • L. M. Tsang
  • Benny K. K. Chan
  • K. Y. Ma
  • C.-H. Hsu
  • K. H. ChuEmail author
Research Article


Tetraclita japonica and T. formosana are common intertidal barnacles with similar morphology, which leads to uncertainty in their species status. In the present study, we try to elucidate the taxonomic status of the two taxa using morphology and mitochondrial control region and cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) sequences of the barnacles in their distribution range. The two taxa were found to be morphologically similar; a diagnostic difference between them was only observed in the colour of the parietes and opercular plates. Little genetic differentiation was detected in the control region and COI (ΦCT < 0.025 for both markers) between two taxa, but differentiation was found between the southern (Taiwan and Hong Kong) and northern (Japan) populations of T. japonica/T. formosana, which might be the result of isolation by distance and upwelling in summer. Our data suggest that the two presently recognized species probably represent two colour morphotypes of the same species exhibiting different geographical distribution. T. japonica is abundant in Japan and southeast coast of China, whereas T. formosana is only abundant in Taiwan. The heterogeneous environment might exert a divergent selection pressure leading to asymmetric distribution of the two colour morphotypes. The different colours might be a result of either phenotypic plasticity adaptive to environmental variables or genetic hitchhiking of local adaptive genotypes.


Amplify Fragment Length Polymorphism Control Region Incomplete Lineage Sorting Control Region Sequence Genetic Hitchhike 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors would like to thank Mr. A. Murata (Natural History Museum and Institute, Chiba) for assistance in field work in Kominato, Prof. T. Yamaguchi and Dr. Romanus Prabrowo (Chiba University, Japan) for assistance in field work and providing specimens in Kurosaki, Prof. M. Yamaguchi (University of Ryukyus, Okinawa) for assistance in field collection in Okinawa, Dr. Ming Liu (HKU) for field work assistance in Xiamen and Ms. Damgy Chan (HKU) for the collection in Hong Kong. The work described in this paper was substantially supported by a grant from the Research Grants Council, Hong Kong (Project no. HKU7597/05M), and a grant from the National Science Council, Taiwan (NSC 95-2621-B-001-014). The authors also thank the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department of the Hong Kong SAR Government for permission to collect Tetraclita in the Cape d’Aguilar Marine Reserve. The experiments complied with the current laws of HKSAR and Taiwan.

Supplementary material

227_2006_460_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (38 kb)
Supplementary material


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. M. Tsang
    • 1
  • Benny K. K. Chan
    • 2
    • 3
  • K. Y. Ma
    • 1
  • C.-H. Hsu
    • 2
  • K. H. Chu
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of BiologyThe Chinese University of Hong KongShatinHong Kong
  2. 2.Research Centre for BiodiversityAcademia SinicaTaipeiTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of Ecology and Biodiversity, The Swire Institute of Marine ScienceThe University of Hong KongPokfulam RoadHong Kong

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