Marine Biology

, Volume 127, Issue 4, pp 647-656

First online:

Effects of contrasting modes of larval development on the genetic structures of populations of three species of prosobranch gastropods

  • M. G. HoskinAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales 2522, Australia

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 In south-eastern Australia, the prosobranch gastropods Morula marginalba (Blainville), Cominella lineolata (Lamarck) and Bedeva hanleyi (Angas) have similar fine-scale distributions, but appear to possess very different dispersal capabilities due to contrasting modes of larval development. M.marginalba produce planktonic larvae, whereas C. lineolata and B. hanleyi undergo direct development in benthic egg capsules and emerge as crawling juveniles. To test for possible effects of contrasting life histories on levels of genetic variation within and among populations, a survey was conducted of allozyme variation at six polymorphic loci in 8 to 9 local populations of each species. Collections of snails were made between June 1992 and November 1993. Sampling ranges spanned between 162 and 180 km of coast. Regardless of larval type, proportions of single-locus genotypes in each collection were consistent with the recruitment of offspring which had been generated through random mating. However, genotypic diversity was lower in those species that undergo direct development. Loci surveyed in C. lineolata and B. hanleyi were polymorphic (i.e. frequency of most common allele <95%) in fewer populations than those examined for M.␣marginalba (P <0.001) and, where polymorphisms occurred, also possessed significantly fewer alleles (P <0.001). Consequently, average levels of expected heterozygosity were greater in populations of M. marginalba than in those of either of the other species (P <0.001). Genetic variation among populations, expressed as the standardised variance in allele frequencies (F ST ), was inversely related to expected larval dispersal capability. The nine collections of M. marginalba showed little overall differentiation (F ST  = 0.017; P <0.001), reflecting the ability of planktonic larvae to interconnect local populations, and so limit divergence due to drift and natural selection. In contrast, there were high levels of allelic heterogeneity among the nine collections of C. lineolata (F ST  = 0.523; P <0.001) and eight collections of B. hanleyi (F ST  = 0.140; P <0.001). These data imply that for species which undergo direct development, local populations are effectively closed and evolve largely independent of one another.