Marine Biodiversity

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 195–210 | Cite as

Biodiversity and phylogeography of Arctic marine fauna: insights from molecular tools

  • Sarah Mincks HardyEmail author
  • Christina M. Carr
  • Michael Hardman
  • Dirk Steinke
  • Erin Corstorphine
  • Christopher Mah
Arctic Ocean Diversity Synthesis


The last decade has seen an increase in the frequency and breadth of application of molecular tools, many of which are beginning to shed light on long-standing questions in biogeography and evolutionary history of marine fauna. We explore new developments with respect to Arctic marine invertebrates, focusing on molecular taxonomy and phylogeography—two areas that have seen the most progress in the time-frame of the Census of Marine Life. International efforts to generate genetic ‘barcodes’ have yielded new taxonomic insights and applications ranging from diet analysis to identification of larval forms. Increasing availability of genetic data in public databases is also facilitating exploration of large-scale patterns in Arctic marine populations. We present new case-studies in meta-population analysis of barcode data from polychaetes and echinoderms that demonstrate such phylogeographic applications. Emerging patterns from ours and other published studies include influences of a complex climatic and glacial history on genetic diversity and evolution in the Arctic, and contrasting patterns of both high gene flow and persistent biogeographic boundaries in contemporary populations.


Phylogeography Arctic biodiversity DNA barcoding Population connectivity Glacial cycles Trans-Arctic exchange 



This publication is part of the Census of Marine Life’s Arctic Ocean Diversity (ArcOD) project synthesis and was originally presented at the Arctic Frontiers Conference in Tromsø, January 2010. The support and initiative of the Arctic Marine Ecosystem Research Network (ARCTOS) and Arctic Frontiers are gratefully acknowledged. S.M. Hardy and C. Carr also appreciate research support from ArcOD, which contributed to the generation of polychaete barcode data analyzed here. M. Hardman was funded by the Academy of Finland and D. Steinke was supported by funding from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (MarBOL).


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Copyright information

© Senckenberg, Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sarah Mincks Hardy
    • 1
    Email author
  • Christina M. Carr
    • 2
  • Michael Hardman
    • 3
  • Dirk Steinke
    • 2
  • Erin Corstorphine
    • 2
  • Christopher Mah
    • 4
  1. 1.University of Alaska, FairbanksSchool of Fisheries and Ocean SciencesFairbanksUSA
  2. 2.Biodiversity Institute of OntarioUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  3. 3.Finnish Museum of Natural HistoryUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  4. 4.Smithsonian InstitutionWashingtonUSA

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