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Pleistocene speciation of sister taxa in a North Pacific clade of brooding sea stars (Leptasterias)
Foltz, D.W.; Nguyen, A.T.; Kiger, J.R.; Mah, C.L. (2008). Pleistocene speciation of sister taxa in a North Pacific clade of brooding sea stars (Leptasterias). Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 154(3): 593-602.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162; e-ISSN 1432-1793, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Foltz, D.W.
  • Nguyen, A.T.
  • Kiger, J.R.
  • Mah, C.L.

    Although numerous coastal marine species show intra-specific lineage splitting and population divergence times that date to the period of glacial cycles during the Pleistocene epoch, reported instances of recent speciation in the coastal marine environment are relatively rare. Marine organisms with brood-protection and other reproductive modes with limited dispersal potential have been suggested to experience more frequent speciation and extinction events than related species with higher dispersal rates, but few studies have actually estimated divergence times of sister species in these organisms. Here, two mitochondrial gene regions (cytochrome oxidase subunit I, putative control region and upstream tRNAs) and a nuclear gene region (Elongation factor 1a subunit intron 4) provide evidence of recent (0.5–1.2 Mya) cladogenetic events in four pairs of putative sister taxa in a predominantly North Pacific brooding subgenus of sea stars (Leptasterias subgenus Hexasterias). Calibration is obtained from a trans-arctic migration in a related clade of sea stars (Leptasterias subgenera Hexasterias and Nesasterias) that is timed to the opening of the Bering Strait at 3.5 ± 0.25 Mya, and uncertainty in the calibration point is accommodated with a normally-distributed Bayesian prior probability. Similar estimates of population splitting times for two of the pairs of putative sister taxa were obtained by a multilocus coalescent analysis. Estimates of mitochondrial mutation rates (0.01/My) were approximately 50% of the values calibrated for sister species pairs in tropical sea stars and sea urchins.

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