Marine Biology

, Volume 155, Issue 3, pp 315–323 | Cite as

Genetic diversity of Nymphon (Arthropoda: Pycnogonida: Nymphonidae) along the Antarctic Peninsula with a focus on Nymphon australe Hodgson 1902

  • A. R. MahonEmail author
  • C. P. Arango
  • K. M. Halanych
Original Paper


Sea spiders are conspicuous, and often abundant, members of the Antarctic benthic community. Nymphonidae (Pycnogonida) in Southern Ocean waters comprise over 240 species which are often difficult to assign due to their intraspecific ‘highly variable’ morphology. In particular, Nymphon australe, the numerically dominant species in Antarctic waters is known to have a high level of phenotypic variation in external morphology and is also reported to have a circumpolar distribution. Circumpolarity seems contradictory to the pycnogonid’s brooding lifestyle and presumably limited dispersal. Here we examine the genetic diversity of several Nymphon species collected in the Antarctic Peninsular region. Concomitantly, we assess the genetic structure of N. australe to gain insight into Nymphon dispersal capacity. Cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and 16S ribosomal gene data suggest a recent common history and/or recent gene-flow of N. australe populations across nearly 800 km of the Antarctic Peninsula. Furthermore, these data support that the Antarctic Peninsula region may hold two previously unrecognized species of Nymphon.


Southern Ocean Antarctic Peninsula Dispersal Capability Genetic Connectivity 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.



The Edison-Chouest Offshore crew, Raytheon personnel, and scientific participants of the ASRV Laurence M. Gould in the 2004 and 2006 Antarctic cruises (LMG 04-14 and LMG 06-05, respectively) are gratefully acknowledged for their help and logistical support. This work was supported by a National Science Foundation grant to KMH (OPP-0338218) and an Australian Biological Resources Study (ABRS) grant to CPA (204-61). This work is AU Marine Biology Program contribution #41.

Supplementary material

227_2008_1029_MOESM1_ESM.eps (877 kb)
Supplementary Figure 1. Bayesian analysis of combined COI + 16S collapsed haplotype dataset using the GTR+I+G model of substitution, displaying only the clade containing Nymphon australe and the outgroup Nymphon paucituberculatum. Inset displays the entire tree topology. Haplotype designations (Roman numerals) correlate to data presented in Figure 3 and Supplementary Table 3 (EPS 878 kb)
227_2008_1029_MOESM2_ESM.doc (304 kb)
Supplementary Table 1 (DOC 304 kb)
227_2008_1029_MOESM3_ESM.doc (32 kb)
Supplementary Table 2 (DOC 33 kb)
227_2008_1029_MOESM4_ESM.doc (62 kb)
Supplementary Table 3 (DOC 62 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Department of Biological SciencesAuburn UniversityAuburnUSA
  2. 2.Queensland MuseumSouth BrisbaneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesThe University of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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