, Volume 70, Issue 2, pp 157-164

Chaotic genetic patchiness in an intertidal limpet, Siphonaria sp.

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Variation of 4 polymorphic enzymes was studied for 2 yr (1978 and 1979) in an undescribed species of Siphonaria, a pulmonate limpet, from a rocky shore at Rottnest Island, Western Australia. Depending on the locus, significant genetic differences were found among sites along 50 m of shore, between high and low portions of the shore within sites, between adults and recruits, and between recruits in the 2 yr. This genetic heterogeneity does not follow a simple, consistent pattern, but forms a shifting, ephemeral genetic patchiness best described as chaotic. This patchiness may result from temporal variation of numbers and genotypes of recruits, which leads to the proposal that planktonic dispersal, although causing uniformity on a large scale, can give rise to fine-scale genetic patchiness.

Communicated by G. F. Humphrey, Sydney