, Volume 779, Issue 1, pp 35–46 | Cite as

Molecular evidence of distinct evolutionary units in the sandhopper Talorchestia capensis (Amphipoda, Talitridae) along South African coasts

  • Simone Baldanzi
  • Gavin Gouws
  • Nigel P. Barker
  • Sara Fratini
Primary Research Paper


Marine geographical and ecological barriers often reflect intraspecific genetic discontinuities among populations which may experience different selective pressures and undergo evolutionary divergence. While the phylogeography of marine intertidal invertebrates across the Atlantic/Indian Ocean transition received more attention, the population genetic structures of supralittoral direct developers across such transition area have been poorly investigated. Sandhoppers are supralittoral invertebrates characterised by a direct developmental mode (low dispersal ability), and Talorchestia capensis (Amphipoda, Talitridae) represents the most abundant species of sandhoppers along the South African coasts. To define population structure of T. capensis, we used a mitochondrial marker (the cytochrome oxidase subunit I gene, COX1). T. capensis showed a clean population structure with three main haplogroups genetically well separated, although this separation is not perfectly in line with geographical boundaries described for this area. The presence of separate evolutionary significant units is also confirmed by the shape of mismatch distribution, as well as the p distance values among groups. The overall results confirm the importance of mtDNA to retrieve information on the evolutionary history of species. This study suggests the evidence of a complex-species for this sandhoppers, which have never been considered before, providing fundamental basis for further studies.


mtDNA marker COX1 Cryptic species Population genetics Sandy-beach ecology 



The authors are extremely grateful to Prof Christopher D. McQuaid for his precious comments on the first draft of this paper and for funding through the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology. The authors extend their gratitude to Dr. Peter Teske for his advice on data analysis, Dr. Stefano Cannicci and Dr. Francesca Porri for their contribution on an early draft of this paper. SB is particularly grateful to Dr. C. Kelly for his help in the laboratory. The authors finally thank two anonymous reviewers who contributed to improve the manuscript. The work is based upon research supported by the South African Research Chairs Initiative of the Department of Science and Technology and the National Research Foundation of South Africa (NRF).


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Simone Baldanzi
    • 1
    • 2
  • Gavin Gouws
    • 2
  • Nigel P. Barker
    • 3
  • Sara Fratini
    • 4
  1. 1.Estación Costera de Investigaciones MarinasPontificia Universidad Catolica de ChileLas Cruces Comuna El TaboChile
  2. 2.South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB)GrahamstownSouth Africa
  3. 3.Molecular Ecology and Systematics Group, Botany DepartmentRhodes UniversityGrahamstownSouth Africa
  4. 4.Department of BiologyUniversità degli Studi di FirenzeFlorenceItaly

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