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High levels of gene flow in the surf bivalve Donax deltoides (Bivalvia: Donacidae) on the east coast of Australia


We surveyed patterns of allelic variation within twelve samples of the pipi Donax deltoides Lamarck from beaches separated by up to 1200 km but connected to varying degrees by the East Australian Current. We used these data to test the prediction that the irregular patterns of water movement would cause genetic differentiation in pipis, so that there would be more genetic variation within and among the more southern regions than the northern regions. We found that six loci were at least moderately variable within all samples, and there were no clear geographic patterns in allelic frequencies. In general, genotype frequencies within samples were consistent with predictions for an outcrossed, sexually reproducing species, and we detected no evidence of population subdivision. Within samples, with the exception of the peptidase loci, single-locus genotype frequencies were in close agreement with expectations for Hardy–Weinberg equilibrium. We observed no significant linkage disequilibrium for any pairwise comparison of loci in any sample. Our hierarchical analysis of genetic variation revealed little variation among all samples (F st = 0.009). Loci showed consistently low levels of subdivision (F st from 0.003 to 0.018). We found almost no variation among the four geographic regions sampled (F rt = 0.001). All variation was therefore attributable to variation among samples within regions (F sr = 0.010). These data imply that larvae are moving between regions and that levels of present or recent gene flow are high, and support the conclusions of other studies which have inferred widespread gene flow for animals dispersing via planktonic, outcrossed larvae in parts of this region. This implies that the East Australian Current is sufficient to produce strong larval connections despite its intermittent nature. If existing levels of population subdivision reflect current levels of gene flow, then these data imply that D. deltoides represents a single fishery on the east coast of Australia.

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Received: 16 September 1996 / Accepted: 25 September 1996

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Murray-Jones, S., Ayre, D. High levels of gene flow in the surf bivalve Donax deltoides (Bivalvia: Donacidae) on the east coast of Australia. Marine Biology 128, 83–89 (1997).

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  • Beach
  • Gene Flow
  • Bivalve
  • Genetic Differentiation
  • Genotype Frequency