Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 4, pp 895–904 | Cite as

Multiple lineages and absence of panmixia in the “circumpolar” crinoid Promachocrinus kerguelensis from the Atlantic sector of Antarctica

  • N. G. WilsonEmail author
  • R. L. Hunter
  • S. J. Lockhart
  • K. M. Halanych
Research Article


Despite considerable interest in physiology, evolution and life history of Antarctic marine invertebrates, only a limited number of studies have examined the genetic variability and diversity patterns of these organisms. Moreover, understanding and characterizing patterns of Antarctic biodiversity has taken on a degree of urgency because of potential impacts of global warming. To expand an understanding of the evolutionary history of Antarctic marine invertebrates, the genetic diversity of the crinoid Promachocrinuskerguelensis Carpenter, 1888 was investigated, which is documented to have a circumpolar distribution extending to subantarctic islands. Specimens of P. kerguelensis were collected from the western side of the Antarctic Peninsula, and the subantarctic islands South Georgia, South Sandwich and Bouvetøya Island from 2001 to 2004. P. kerguelensis was previously subject to morphological review that confirmed the taxonomic recognition of only one species. The wide distribution and reported high dispersal capability for P. kerguelensis predicts one large panmictic population. In contrast, nucleotide sequence data from mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I and cytochrome b genes, collected herein, reveal distinct genetic structure and cryptic speciation within P.kerguelensis. In the Antarctic Atlantic sector alone, there were at least five “species-level” clades. Some of these clades are geographically limited, and most exist in sympatry. The largest and most widespread of these clades was examined to help elucidate connectivity along the subantarctic islands of the Scotia Arc and the Antarctic Peninsula. Within this clade, most genetic diversity was contained within populations, but significant differences were present between regions (Antarctic Peninsula, South Sandwich Is., South Georgia, Bouvetøya Is.), suggesting a corresponding lack of gene flow. Given that P.kerguelensis” is a well-studied taxon, the finding of considerable genetic diversity within the Atlantic sector alone suggests that the recognized diversity of Antarctica’s benthic marine life may be underestimated, and will rise dramatically with phylogeographic analyses of putative widespread species.


Antarctic Peninsula Antarctic Circumpolar Current Atlantic Sector South Sandwich Island Circumpolar Distribution 
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.



This study would not have been possible without a huge amount of logistical support from NSF, Raytheon and the crew of the ARSV Laurence M. Gould. Participants in the Halanych/Scheltema cruises and those on ICEFISH 2004 are thanked sincerely for their efforts. Greg Rouse, Lauren Helgen and Chuck Messing were generous in sharing unpublished data, primers, and outgroup information. Financially, this study was supported by NSF grants OPP-9910164 (SGER) and OPP0338087 to R. Scheltema, OPP-0338218 to K. Halanych, and OPP-0132032 to H.W. Deitrich. Sven Thatje and two anonymous reviewers are thanked for their suggestions on improving the manuscript. This study is contribution #23 of the Auburn University (AU) Marine Biology Program, and complies with the current laws of the countries in which the work was performed.

Supplementary material

227_2007_742_MOESM1_ESM.doc (254 kb)
Supplementary material, approximately 254 KB.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. G. Wilson
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • R. L. Hunter
    • 1
  • S. J. Lockhart
    • 3
  • K. M. Halanych
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, 101 Rouse Life SciencesAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  2. 2.Scripps Institution of OceanographyUniversity of CaliforniaSan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Invertebrate Zoology and GeologyCalifornia Academy of SciencesSan FranciscoUSA

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