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Genetic and morphological evidence for cryptic diversity in the Careproctus rastrinus species complex (Liparidae) of the North Pacific


The molecular phylogeny of the Careproctus rastrinus species complex is presented on the basis of sequence variations in the 16S rRNA and cytochrome b genes (1,447 base pairs) of mitochondrial DNA using specimens collected from across the North Pacific and its marginal seas, including the Sea of Japan, the Pacific coast of Japan, the Sea of Okhotsk, the Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Arctic Ocean. Gene flow and migration between geographic regions is apparently strictly restricted in the C. rastrinus species complex, as this phylogeny revealed nine genetically diverged groups in the C. rastrinus species complex, most of which corresponded well with major geographic regions. Most of the groups were different in terms of morphological characters. Five nominal species have been considered to be members of the complex and have been variously recognized as being valid or as synonyms of C. rastrinus, but the present genetic and morphological differences suggested that the C. rastrinus species complex represents far more divergence. Such cryptic diversity of the C. rastrinus species complex defined by geographic regions may be related to their low dispersal ability, because they bear large demersal eggs. The genetic divergence suggested that colder climates from the late Pliocene and the isolation of marginal seas during the Pleistocene may have driven the divergence of the C. rastrinus species complex.

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We greatly appreciate T.W. Pietsch and K.P. Maslenikov (UW), E.O. Wiley and A.C. Bentley (KU) for loans of specimens and gifts of tissues. Special thanks also go out to J.T. Williams, D.G. Smith, S. Raredon, and K. Murphy (USNM), who facilitated our visits to examine specimens and for providing radiographs and photos. We sincerely thank A. Yamasaki, T. Miyajima, K. Fujiwara, and the crews of the R/V Heian-maru (Kyoto Prefectural Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Technology Center, Japan), as well as T. Wada (Fukushima Prefecture, Japan), H. Matsubara (Tokyo University of Agriculture), D.E. Stevenson, E.N. Laman, R.R. Lauth, L.L. Britt, K.P. Maslenikov, M. Martin, R.N. Clark, S. Kotwicki, N.W. Raring, N.E. Roberson, and R. Harrison (all from AFSC) for help in collecting specimens. This study was supported in part by a grant-in-aid for scientific research (B) from the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) (20370034).

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Correspondence to Yoshiaki Kai.

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Kai, Y., Orr, J.W., Sakai, K. et al. Genetic and morphological evidence for cryptic diversity in the Careproctus rastrinus species complex (Liparidae) of the North Pacific. Ichthyol Res 58, 143–154 (2011).

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  • Careproctus rastrinus
  • North Pacific
  • Molecular phylogeny
  • Cyt-b
  • 16S rRNA
  • Cryptic species