Marine Biology

, Volume 162, Issue 8, pp 1611–1624 | Cite as

Discordance between nuclear and mitochondrial DNA analyses of population structure in closely related triplefin fishes (Forsterygion lapillum and F. capito, F. Tripterygiidae) supports speciation with gene flow

  • M. Rabone
  • S. D. Lavery
  • A. Little
  • K. D. Clements
Original Paper


Unusually for a marine fish clade, most New Zealand triplefin species display broad, sympatric geographic distributions. Explaining diversification in this species flock therefore requires a detailed understanding of patterns of gene flow. Here, we test the patterns reported in previous studies by examining population structure over a range of spatial scales in Forsterygion lapillum and at regional scales in F. capito using microsatellites. Samples were collected between 2000 and 2009, and between 35°56′S and 46°36′S. The microsatellite findings differ from previous mtDNA results in several key respects. First, there is no support for a genetically distinct population at Banks Peninsula, as was seen with mtDNA. Second, in contrast to mtDNA, the two triplefin species exhibited very similar patterns of population structuring at regional scales (102–103 km), suggesting that year-round spawning only in F. lapillum does not have a significant effect on population connectivity. Third, while there is evidence of isolation by distance in both species, there are no clear phylogeographic breaks, and far less structure is evident than in the mtDNA data. Further, we found a lack of structure over local scales in F. lapillum, suggesting extensive gene flow over tens of kilometres. Our findings suggest a pattern of stepping-stone dispersal and contiguous gene flow, sometimes over large distances, supporting the hypothesis that factors other than geographic isolation, such as ecological speciation with gene flow, have been important in the evolution of this group.


Gene Flow Reef Fish Allelic Richness Larval Dispersal Population Connectivity 
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 Andrew Stuart, Danielle Hannan, Cecile Croq, Dave Todd, Tony Hickey, and Zoe Hilton for sample collection at various locations in New Zealand. The study was funded by the University of Auckland Faculty of Science Research Development Fund. Thanks also to Craig Newton at ATC Genetics for primer design, Vibha Thakur for laboratory support, and Kristine Boxen for running samples at the sequencing facility in the University of Auckland.

Supplementary material

227_2015_2697_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (442 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 442 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  2. 2.Institute of Marine ScienceUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  3. 3.Life Sciences DepartmentNatural History MuseumLondonUK

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