Marine Biology

, Volume 111, Issue 3, pp 323–333

Allozymes and morphometric characters of three species ofMytilus in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres


  • J. H. McDonald
    • Department of Ecology and EvolutionState University of New York
  • R. Seed
    • School of Ocean SciencesUniversity of Wales Bangor
  • R. K. Koehn
    • Department of Ecology and EvolutionState University of New York

DOI: 10.1007/BF01319403

Cite this article as:
McDonald, J.H., Seed, R. & Koehn, R.K. Mar. Biol. (1991) 111: 323. doi:10.1007/BF01319403


Many authors have considered the common mussels in temperate waters of the Northern and Southern Hemispheres to be a single cosmopolitan species,Mytilus edulis Linnaeus, 1758. Others have divided these mussels into several subspecies or species. Samples of mussels were collected from 36 locations in the Northern Hemisphere and nine locations in the Southern Hemisphere. Electrophoretic evidence from eight loci indicates that the Northern Hemisphere samples consist of three electrophoretically distinguishable species:M. edulis from eastern North America and western Europe;M. galloprovincialis Lamarck, 1819 from the Mediterranean Sea, western Europe, California, and eastern Asia; andM. trossulus Gould, 1850 from the Baltic Sea, eastern Canada, western North America and the Pacific coast of Siberia. Mussels from Chile, Argentina, the Falkland Islands and the Kerguelen Islands contain alleles characteristic of all three Northern Hemisphere species, but because they are most similar toM. edulis from the Northern Hemisphere, we suggest that they tentatively be included inM. edulis. These South American samples are morphologically intermediate between Northern HemisphereM. edulis andM. trossulus. Mussels from Australia and New Zealand are similar in allele frequency and morphometric characters toM. galloprovincialis from the Northern Hemisphere. FossilMytilus sp. are present in Australia, New Zealand and South America, which suggests that the Southern Hemisphere populations may be native, rather than introduced by humans. Morphometric characters were measured on samples which the allozyme data indicated contained a single species. Canonical variates analysis of the morphometric characters yields functions which distinguish among our samples of the species in the Northern Hemisphere.

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© Springer-Verlag 1991