, Volume 94, Issue 4, pp 537-546

Clonal and solitary anemones (Anthopleura ) of western North America: population genetics and systematics

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Francis (1979) proposed that clonal and solitary forms of the anemone Anthopleura elegantissima are actually two species. In 1984 and 1985, samples from two to six California populations of all known forms and species of California Anthopleura were analyzed electrophoretically to determine their taxonomic relationships. Data from 14 enzymes and 18 loci, 17 of them polymorphic, show that the two forms of A. elegantissima are virtually identical electrophoretically, and there is no evidence of reduced gene flow between them. We conclude there are three species of Anthopleura in California: A. elegantissima (Brandt, 1835), A. xanthogrammica (Brandt, 1835) and A. artemisia (Dana, 1848). Genetic variation in the two species capable of asexual reproduction, A. elegantissima and A. artemisia, is extremely high, approximately 2.5 times that of the strictly sexual A. xanthogrammica.