Temporal variation of recruits as a basis of ephemeral genetic heterogeneity in the western rock lobster Panulirus cygnus
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- Johnson, M. & Wernham, J. Marine Biology (1999) 135: 133. doi:10.1007/s002270050610
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Allozymes were examined in quantitative lunar monthly collections of larval recruits of the western rock lobster Panulirus cygnus George over three recruitment seasons at two sites nearly 350 km apart in Western Australia. At Alkimos, the southern site, recruitment occurs in a relatively narrow peak early in the spring, whereas at the northern Houtman Abrolhos Islands, recruitment extends into the summer months. In the 1995/1996 recruitment season, the frequency of the GPI*100 allele increased from early to late in the season, but the frequencies were indistinguishable at the two sites in each monthly collection. The combination of this temporal variation in allelic frequencies with the contrasting patterns of recruitment at the Abrolhos Islands and Alkimos resulted in genetically different cohorts at the two sites. This pattern was ephemeral, as it was not repeated in the subsequent two years. Thus, ephemeral genetic patchiness in P. cygnus can be generated by the locally-specific genetic mix of recruits obtained from a common larval pool. This mechanism is the probable explanation of previously observed temporal and possible spatial genetic variation in adult P. cygnus, and highlights the importance of studying recruitment in order to understand the genetic structure of marine species.