Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 3, pp 661–674 | Cite as

Phylogeography of the marine interstitial nemertean Ototyphlonemertes parmula (Nemertea, Hoplonemertea) reveals cryptic diversity and high dispersal potential

  • Alexander Y. Tulchinsky
  • Jon L. Norenburg
  • James M. Turbeville
Original Paper


We conducted a phylogeographic study of the meiofaunal nemertean Ototyphlonemertes parmula, an apparent species complex from the littoral zone of coarse-grained beaches, using a 494-bp fragment of the mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase 3 gene (cox3). Six populations from the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida, two from New England, and one from the Caribbean were sampled in March and August 2005. Three major lineages were identified, separated by cox3 sequence divergence of 16–18%, with partially overlapping ranges. Tests for hybridization using ISSR markers detected nuclear gene exchange within but not between the major mitochondrial lineages, indicating the presence of cryptic species. One lineage dominating the Atlantic coast of Florida shows no evidence of geographic structuring. Another lineage shows a phylogenetic break between the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, suggesting that unsuitable habitat may act as a barrier to dispersal. Long-distance migration is evidenced by shared haplotypes between Florida and the eastern Caribbean. Overall, the widespread distribution of individual haplotypes and lack of structuring within geographic regions contrast with O. parmula’s strongly sediment-bound lifestyle. We speculate that dispersal of adults by storms and/or sediment transport may be more important than few and potentially short-lived planktonic larvae to explain geographic diversity in O. parmula and may be important for meiofauna in general.


Last Glacial Maximum Meiofauna Supplementary Material Table Mismatch Distribution Mitochondrial Lineage 
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.



Travel funding was provided by the Smithsonian Institution. We thank the staff at the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce, Florida, where collections were processed. We thank D. Smith, A. Nicolas, and B. Brown for assistance with laboratory methods. A. Porter and N. Johnson provided valuable feedback on the manuscript. Thanks also to J. Woodruff, who provided useful information about storm-driven sediment transport, and to anonymous reviewers whose helpful and detailed comments improved this manuscript. This research was supported by National Science Foundation Grant DEB-0089654. This publication represents contribution 871 of the Smithsonian Marine Station at Fort Pierce.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical standards

All experiments comply with the current laws of the country in which they were performed.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alexander Y. Tulchinsky
    • 1
  • Jon L. Norenburg
    • 2
  • James M. Turbeville
    • 3
  1. 1.Graduate Program in Organismic and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of Massachusetts AmherstAmherstUSA
  2. 2.National Museum of Natural HistorySmithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA
  3. 3.Department of BiologyVirginia Commonwealth UniversityRichmondUSA

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