Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 3, pp 569–579 | Cite as

Spatial and temporal genetic homogeneity in the Arctic surfclam (Mactromeris polynyma)

  • Manon C. Cassista
  • Michael W. HartEmail author
Research Article


Commercially harvested marine bivalve populations show a broad range of population-genetic patterns that may be driven by planktonic larval dispersal (gene flow) or by historical (genetic drift) and ecological processes (selection). We characterized microsatellite genetic variation among populations and year classes of the commercially harvested Arctic surfclam, Mactromeris polynyma, in order to test the relative significance of gene flow and drift on three spatial scales: within commercially harvested populations in the northwest Atlantic; among Atlantic populations; and between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. We found small nonsignificant genetic subdivision among eight populations from the northwest Atlantic (FST = 0.002). All of these Atlantic populations were highly significantly differentiated from a northeast Pacific population (FST = 0.087); all populations showed high inbreeding coefficients (FIS = 0.432). We tested one likely source of heterozygote deficits by aging individual clams and exploring genetic variation among age classes within populations (a temporal Wahlund effect). Populations showed strikingly different patterns of age structure, but we found little differentiation among age classes. In one case, we were able to analyze genetic diversity between age classes older or younger than the advent of intensive commercial harvesting. The results generally suggest spatially broad and temporally persistent genetic homogeneity of these bivalves. We discuss the implications of the results for the biology and management of surfclam populations.


Bivalve Effective Population Size Shell Length Fishing Mortality Larval Dispersal 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Thanks to Jason Addison and Fiona Harper for advice and assistance in the lab; Bob Latta and Stephen Smith for statistical advice and patience; Danny Ruzzante for comments on earlier drafts of the text; and Dale Roddick for extensive advice and assistance with sample collection and aging techniques. We were supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation, Dalhousie University, and a Collaborative Research and Development award funded jointly by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada and by Clearwater Fine Foods Inc. This research was carried out in compliance with relevant provincial and national laws of Canada.

Supplementary material

227_2007_711_MOESM1_ESM.doc (107 kb)
Spatial and temporal genetic homogeneity in the Arctic surfclam (Mactromeris polynyma)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of BiologyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of Biological SciencesSimon Fraser UniversityBurnabyCanada
  3. 3.Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Population Ecology DivisionBedford Institute of OceanographyDartmouthCanada

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