Marine Biology

, Volume 147, Issue 6, pp 1279–1289 | Cite as

Present-day genetic composition suggests contrasting demographic histories of two dominant chaetognaths of the North-East Atlantic, Sagitta elegans and S. setosa

  • K. T. C. A. PeijnenburgEmail author
  • E. K. van Haastrecht
  • C. Fauvelot
Research Article


Sagitta elegans and S. setosa are the two dominant chaetognaths in the North-East (NE) Atlantic. They are closely related and have a similar ecology and life history, but differ in distributional ranges. Sagitta setosa is a typical neritic species occurring exclusively above shelf regions, whereas S. elegans is a more oceanic species with a widespread distribution. We hypothesised that neritic species, because of smaller and more fragmented populations, would have been more vulnerable to population bottlenecks resulting from range contractions during Pleistocene glaciations than oceanic species. To test this hypothesis we compared mitochondrial Cytochrome Oxidase II DNA sequences of S. elegans and S. setosa from sampling locations across the NE Atlantic. Both species displayed very high levels of genetic diversity with unique haplotypes for every sequenced individual and an approximately three times higher level of nucleotide diversity in S. elegans (0.061) compared to S. setosa (0.021). Sagitta setosa mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotypes produced a star-like phylogeny and a uni-modal mismatch distribution indicative of a bottleneck followed by population expansion. In contrast, S. elegans had a deeper mtDNA phylogeny and a multi-modal mismatch distribution as would be expected from a more stable population. Neutrality tests indicated that assumptions of the standard neutral model were violated for both species and results from the McDonald-Kreitman test suggested that selection played a role in the evolution of their mitochondrial DNA. Congruent with these results, both species had much smaller effective population sizes estimated from genetic data when compared to census population sizes estimated from abundance data, with a factor of ~108–109 difference. Assuming that selective effects are comparable for the two species, we conclude that the difference in genetic signature can only be explained by contrasting demographic histories. Our data are consistent with the hypothesis that in the NE Atlantic, the neritic S. setosa has been more severely affected by population bottlenecks resulting from Pleistocene range shifts than the more oceanic S. elegans.


Effective Population Size Codon Position Demographic History Selective Sweep Genetic Signature 
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We thank all crew of the research vessel Pelagia, R. ter Hofstede, and J.-H Schotveld for their help in taking plankton samples and C. ten Hallers-Tjabes for inviting KP, and H. van Aken for inviting KP and EH aboard their research cruises. H. van Aken is also thanked for his calculations of the areas and volumes of the distributions of the two chaetognaths. W. van Ginkel, P. Kuperus, and B. Voetdijk are acknowledged for laboratory assistance and J. van Arkel for his help with figures. We thank G. Lecaillon, P. Meirmans, A. Pierrot-Bults, and A. Southward for discussion. Comments of J. Breeuwer, M. Egas, M. Genner, P. Luttikhuizen, and S. Menken improved the manuscript. This research was funded by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) as part of the priority program ‘Sustainable use and conservation of marine living resources’ project number 885.100.02. Research was carried out in accordance with all laws and regulations of the Netherlands.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. T. C. A. Peijnenburg
    • 1
    Email author
  • E. K. van Haastrecht
    • 1
  • C. Fauvelot
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics, Faculty of ScienceUniversiteit van Amsterdam The Netherlands

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