Phylogeography of the Cellana limpets of New Zealand: Investigating Barriers to Marine Dispersal and Historical Biogeography
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New Zealand is a continental island surrounded by deep-ocean, with a complex system of currents and oceanographic anomalies that may serve to isolate populations of coastal marine organisms. In particular Cook Strait is a 26 km wide body of water separating the North and South Islands which is characterised by complex interactions of tides and converging water masses. Cook Strait is a geologically recent formation that may also impart an historical influence on the biogeographic distribution of coastal marine taxa. In order to investigate the phylogeographic structure of coastal marine taxa around New Zealand's coastline and to investigate the processes that may contribute toward this genetic structure, I analysed mitochondrial DNA genes from limpet species of the Cellana genus. Phylogenetic analyses of the ribosomal 12S and 16S DNA genes showed that C. ornata may approximate the founding lineage to New Zealand, but these genes were unable to resolve between contrasting biogeographic hypotheses about the origin of Cellana in New Zealand. Intraspecific analyses of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene from populations throughout the biogeographic range of Cellana ornata, C. radians and C. flava showed concordant genetic discontinuity at Cook Strait. Further analyses suggest that allopatric fragmentation and restricted gene flow have caused significant genetic differentiation between populations of the North and South Island. Demographic expansion was also identified for C. radians. The influence of contemporary nearshore currents and sea surface temperature was assessed using the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene for C. radians and C. ornata. Low levels of genetic differentiation between populations corresponding to 'current-zones' suggests that contemporary oceanic processes may be contributing to the genetic pattern observed for these species. However, the shallow divergence between haplotypes and populations restricted thorough investigation of contemporary gene flow. Genealogical concordance across co-distributed marine taxa of New Zealand also lends support to the historic association of genetic and species discontinuities with recent geological changes, such as sea level fluctuations.