Marine Biology

, Volume 156, Issue 6, pp 1193–1202 | Cite as

Isolation and population divergence of a widespread Indo-West Pacific marine gastropod at Easter Island

  • Thomas Franklin DudaJrEmail author
  • Taehwan Lee
Original Paper


Oceanic islands represent excellent systems for studying the link between geographic isolation and population divergence. Easter Island is the world’s most isolated island and exhibits a high level of endemicity in the nearshore marine environment. Yet few studies have examined the effect of such extreme isolation on the divergence of populations of widespread species that occur at Easter Island. Conus miliaris, a marine gastropod distributed throughout much of the Indo-West Pacific, occurs at Easter Island where the population is ecologically and morphologically distinct from other populations of the species. To determine whether these phenotypic differences are associated with genetic isolation of the Easter Island population, we investigated the phylogeography of this species by examining mitochondrial COI sequences obtained from 141 individuals from eight localities occurring predominantly in the western, central and southeastern Pacific. Results from our analyses show that C. miliaris at Easter Island differs genetically from other populations. We estimate that C. miliaris colonized Easter Island shortly after the origin of the island ≤0.7 million years ago and that since population founding, gene flow has occurred predominantly from Easter Island to the west and that little migration has occurred into Easter Island.


Mismatch Distribution Cook Island Reciprocal Monophyly Marine Taxon Recent Population Expansion 
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 John Slapcinsky and Gustav Paulay of the Florida Museum of Natural History of the University of Florida at Gainesville and Jochen Gerber, Rüdiger Bieler and Janet Voight of the Field Museum for loaned specimens. We also thank Chris Meyer from the National Museum of Natural History for sequences of some of the specimens analyzed in this work. We also gratefully acknowledge Javier Rivera Vergara from the Unidad de Recursos Bentónicos of the Subsecretaría de Pesca of Chile for permission to collect specimens at Easter Island, Brian Dyer from the Universidad del Mar in Viña del Mar, Chile for assistance in obtaining the permission, and Dan Chang for field assistance at Easter Island. We appreciate comments from Diarmaid Ó Foighil, Alan Kohn and Haris Lessios on earlier drafts of this manuscript. This work was completed with support from the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE 8228-07) and NSF (IOS 0718370).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Museum of ZoologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Smithsonian Tropical Research InstituteBalboaRepublic of Panama

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