Marine Biology

, Volume 153, Issue 3, pp 375–385 | Cite as

New expansions in old clades: population genetics and phylogeny of Gnatholepis species (Teleostei: Gobioidei) in the Pacific

  • Christine E. ThackerEmail author
  • Andrew R. Thompson
  • Dawn M. Roje
  • Emily Y. Shaw
Research Article


Species of the reef goby genus Gnatholepis exhibit enormous geographic ranges with little evidence of population segregation detectable based on mitochondrial DNA. To determine if genetic differentiation is evident with more rapidly evolving markers, seven microsatellite loci were screened from the species Gnatholepis anjerensis and G. scapulostigma and population segregation was tested among fish from across the South Pacific. Both AMOVA and pairwise FST analyses showed that, in concordance with previous mitochondrial results, most genetic variance occurs within individual populations, as population differentiation is evident only over the largest distances (>3,700 km). This result is contrasted with previous studies demonstrating that despite their relatively long larval periods, some gobiid fishes exhibit population differentiation on small (<100 km) geographic scales. Coalescence analysis showed that current Pacific populations of these species originated in the Pleistocene, presumably related to sea level fluctuations associated with episodes of glaciation. However, rate analysis based on a phylogeny of Gnatholepis species indicates that the species themselves are much older, consistent with a complex history of rapid, short-term population contractions and expansions, with corresponding rapid dispersal.


Molecular Clock Akaike Information Criterion Pairwise Divergence Pelagic Larval Duration Society Island 
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.



We thank Rob Toonen and Peter Marko for their valuable advice and assistance in isolating microsatellite loci. Jon Blythe, Daniel Geiger, Bryce Wolcott, Jada White and Rick Wilder assisted with field collections. This work was supported by grants from the W.M. Keck Foundation and R.M. Parsons Foundation to the program in Molecular Systematics and Evolution at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine E. Thacker
    • 1
    Email author
  • Andrew R. Thompson
    • 1
  • Dawn M. Roje
    • 1
  • Emily Y. Shaw
    • 1
  1. 1.Research and Collections—IchthyologyNatural History Museum of Los Angeles CountyLos AngelesUSA

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