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Repeated trans-Arctic invasions in littoral bivalves: molecular zoogeography of the Macoma balthica complex
Väinölä, R. (2003). Repeated trans-Arctic invasions in littoral bivalves: molecular zoogeography of the Macoma balthica complex. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 143(5): 935-946
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
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  • Väinölä, R., more

Abstract
    From a geographical survey of allozyme variation, a history of repeated trans-Arctic invasions since the Plio-Pleistocene is suggested for circumboreal bivalves of the Macoma balthica complex. A principal genetic subdivision, involving several nearly diagnostic loci and Nei's distance D=0.6, distinguishes the clams of the NE Pacific from those of the NE Atlantic. The Pacific taxon is however also present in Europe, in disjunct isolates in the Baltic Sea and White Sea basins. Nevertheless, these populations have marked Atlantic introgressive elements in their gene pools (ca. 30%). Two further population types are recognized, one in the St. Lawrence estuary, Quebec, the other in Varangerfjorden, NE Norway; the latter appears a mixture of Pacific and Atlantic components in almost equal proportions, in local genetic equilibrium (a hybrid swarm). Populations in temperate North America fall outside the circumboreal M. balthica complex discussed here ( D=1.0), and are referred to M. petalum. In a scenario of the history and evolution of the M. balthica complex and the similarly subdivided Mytilus edulis complex, the divergence between Pacific and Atlantic taxa started after an initial introduction of Pacific ancestors to the Atlantic basin, enabled by the Pliocene opening of the Bering Strait. During the Pleistocene and Holocene, the ocean basins were, for the most part, effectively isolated, but occasional re-invasions have taken place, causing secondary contacts of the diverged bivalve types on the Atlantic coasts. The recently re-invaded Pacific taxa in northern Europe now seem to thrive only in the extreme marginal environments. Exact dating of the re-invasions is not possible from current data. Apart from the divergence through isolation, hybridization and introgression have significantly molded the present affinities within the M. balthica complex. A formal taxonomic treatment of reticulate and hybridizing lineages is problematic; yet to recognize the evolutionary and systematic diversity within the M. balthica complex, a subspecies distinction between the NE Atlantic clams and those from the Pacific, Baltic and White Sea basins is suggested.

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