Estuaries and Coasts

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 828–839 | Cite as

Comparative Phylogeography of North American Atlantic Salt Marsh Communities

  • Edgardo Díaz-FergusonEmail author
  • John D. Robinson
  • Brian Silliman
  • John P. Wares


Identifying differential population structure within metacommunities is key toward describing the mechanisms that maintain biodiversity in natural systems. At both local and regional scales on the North American Atlantic coast, we assessed phylogeographic and genetic diversity patterns of six common salt marsh invertebrates using equivalent sampling schemes and sequence data from the same mitochondrial locus. In general, our results suggest little genetic structure across four previously sampled biogeographic regions and a slight increase in genetic diversity from northern to southern areas; however, two of the species (Geukensia demissa and Uca pugilator) exhibited significant differentiation between the northernmost populations and other regions, consistent with a number of previous studies. Although the minimal genetic structure recovered in this community is consistent with expectations based on the larval life history of the species examined, confirmation of this result suggests that latitudinal shifts in ecological interactions in salt marsh systems are environmentally driven, rather than due to heritable adaptation.


Salt marsh Phylogeography Geukensia demissa Crassostrea virginica Ilyanassa obsoleta Uca pugnax Uca pugilator Littoraria irrorata 



The authors want to thank M. Cozad., S. Pankey., S. Pennings., D. Bishop., T. Bell., C. Zakas, and K. Dyer for technical and intellectual assistance during this research. C. Embach aided tremendously with technical editing and composition. We also thank G. Moyer at USFW Fish Technology Center for logistical support provided to E. Díaz-Ferguson. Two anonymous reviewers greatly improved the manuscript through their helpful comments. We also thank the University of Georgia Research Foundation (Wares), the National Science Foundation (DEB-054822, Wares and Silliman), the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration (Grant #8351-07, Wares), and also SEAGEP—Young Investigator Grant from the Mellon Foundation (Silliman) for funding this research work.


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Copyright information

© Coastal and Estuarine Research Federation 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edgardo Díaz-Ferguson
    • 1
    Email author
  • John D. Robinson
    • 2
  • Brian Silliman
    • 1
  • John P. Wares
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of FloridaGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.Genetics DepartmentUniversity of GeorgiaAthensUSA

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