Genetic exchange between anchialine cave populations by means of larval dispersal: the case of a new gastropod species Neritilia cavernicola


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August 2004


Despite being limited to caves, many anchialine taxa have disjunct insular distributions, which raises questions about their origins and colonization history. This study deals with the new gastropod Neritilia cavernicola sp. n. (Neritopsina: Neritiliidae) from anchialine caves on two islands in the Philippines that are separated by the deep Bohol Strait and situated 200 km apart along the coastline of Cebu Island. Neritilia cavernicola is an obligate stygobiont and most closely resembles Neritilia littoralis , which lives in interstitial waters of the Nansei‐shoto Islands, Japan. Its eggs and larval shells are identical to those of other Neritilia species, despite their different adult habitats. This suggests a marine planktotrophic phase (as occurs in amphidromous riverine species of Neritilia ), and consequent migration between islands via ocean currents. Here we present the first genetic structure for anchialine cave organisms; comparisons of 1276 bp sequences from mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I show no evidence of genetic isolation between the islands. All individuals evidently are part of a panmictic population and the low vagility of adults and their seemingly isolated cave habitats do not limit gene flow in N. cavernicola . This migration model, based on marine larval dispersal, may be widely applicable to anchialine stygobites with insular distributions, as many such organisms (including shrimps, crabs and fishes) are phylogenetically allied to amphidromous species.

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Zoologica Scripta, Vol. 33, no. 5 (2004-08-27).