Original Paper

Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 5, pp 1113-1126

First online:

Lack of population structure in the fiddler crab Uca annulipes along an East African latitudinal gradient: genetic and morphometric evidence

  • Inês C. SilvaAffiliated withCentro de Oceanografia, Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Faculdade de Ciências da, Universidade de Lisboa Email author 
  • , Natacha MesquitaAffiliated withMuseu Nacional de História Natural, Universidade de LisboaCentro de Biologia Ambiental, Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa
  • , José PaulaAffiliated withCentro de Oceanografia, Laboratório Marítimo da Guia, Faculdade de Ciências da, Universidade de Lisboa

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Phylogeographic patterns in Uca annulipes sampled from 30 locations across an East African latitudinal gradient were investigated using mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase I sequences and analysed together with patterns of morphometric differentiation. Four hundred and four specimens along the east African coast were sampled, and 18 haplotypes were encountered. Haplotype and nucleotide diversity values were very low and the phylogenetic analysis did not reveal any clear phylogeographic structure. Furthermore, the analysis of molecular variance and pairwise Φ ST values showed no significant spatial population differentiation. Mismatch analyses and tests of neutrality supported the hypothesis that this species has undergone a fairly recent demographic expansion. Our results, therefore, failed to demonstrate significant geographical structure in the pattern of genetic variation, indicating that populations of U. annulipes are capable of extensive gene flow among mangroves along the coast. The genetic structure of this species could be panmictic due to a high amount of gene flow along the geographical gradient in study during the planktonic larval phase, when larvae are carried along stream by the dominant currents. Moreover, the morphometric analysis performed did not reveal differences of shape differentiation according to a geographical pattern, although significant differences among the sampling areas were found.