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Genetic population structure in a commercial marine invertebrate with long-lived lecithotrophic larvae: Cucumaria frondosa (Echinodermata: Holothuroidea)

So, Justin J., Uthicke, Sven, Hamel, Jean-François, Mercier, Annie
Marine biology 2011 v.158 no.4 pp. 859-870
Holothuroidea, analysis of variance, aquatic invertebrates, gene flow, genetic variation, ice, larvae, models, nucleotide sequences, overfishing, population growth, population size, population structure, recruitment, refuge habitats, North America, Norway
The patterns of genetic diversity and connectivity were investigated in Cucumaria frondosa, the most abundant sea cucumber in the North Atlantic, to assist in the management and conservation of this ecologically important marine invertebrate, which is the target of an emerging fishery. Mitochondrial DNA COI sequences of 334 C. frondosa were obtained and analyzed, mainly from its western North Atlantic range, where the commercial fishery is being developed, with complementary sampling in the mid- and eastern North Atlantic. Analysis of molecular variance showed no significant (P > 0.05) differences among subpopulations in the western region suggesting that it constitutes one panmictic population. The same analysis showed low, but significant differences between eastern and western Atlantic populations. Coalescent analyses using isolation with migration models and a Bayesian skyline plot indicated historical divergence and a general increase in population size prior to the last glacial maximum and highly asymmetric gene flow (nearly 100 times lower from west to east) between sea cucumbers from North America and Norway. Results suggest that subpopulations of C. frondosa within the western North Atlantic have been highly connected. We propose that aided by the high-connectivity local subpopulations can recover rapidly from natural (i.e., ice ages) or anthropogenic (i.e., overfishing) population declines through recruitment from deep refugia.