Marine Biology

, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 25–31 | Cite as

High levels of genetic subdivision of marine and estuarine populations of the estuarine catfishCnidoglanis macrocephalus (Plotosidae) in southwestern Australia

  • S. G. Ayvazian
  • M. S. Johnson
  • D. J. McGlashan


The cobblerCnidoglanis macrocephalus (Valenciennes) is an endemic marine and estuarine catfish from southern Australia. Conflicting views on the degree of isolation of the estuarine populations underscore general questions about genetic divergence in coastal species. Although estuaries are widely recognized as ecologically important, little work has been done on their role in favouring genetic divergence. In order to estimate the extent of genetic subdivision among nearshore marine and estuarine populations, electrophoretic variation of enzymes was examined in seven marine and six estuarine populations of cobbler from sites spanning 1500 km along the southwest Australian coastline. Among all populations, the mean standardized variance in allelic frequencies (FST) for six polymorphic loci was 0.277, a high value comparable to those of other shallow-water teleosts whose life-history characteristics and habitat preferences restrict their dispersal capability. The pattern of genetic identities between populations showed divergence between west and south coast sites. Within these regional groups, however, there was substantial heterogeneity, much of which was associated with estuaries. Among all six estuarine sites, the averageFST was 0.333, 40% higher than the value of 0.237 for the marine sites. Low estimates of the genetically effective number of migrants suggest population subdivision between marine and estuarine environments and between similar habitat types. This study indicates the importance of habitat in affecting the connectedness of populations, even in apparently open marine systems.


Standardize Variance South Coast Regional Group Coast Site Genetic Identity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. G. Ayvazian
    • 1
  • M. S. Johnson
    • 1
  • D. J. McGlashan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyThe University of Western AustraliaNedlandsAustralia

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