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Genetic evidence for the cryptic species pair, Lottia digitalis and Lottia austrodigitalis and microhabitat partitioning in sympatry
Crummett, L.T.; Eernisse, D.J. (2007). Genetic evidence for the cryptic species pair, Lottia digitalis and Lottia austrodigitalis and microhabitat partitioning in sympatry. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 152(1): 1-13. http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00227-007-0621-4
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keyword
    Marine

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  • Crummett, L.T.
  • Eernisse, D.J.

Abstract
    It has been proposed that the common West Coast limpet, Lottia digitalis, is actually the northern counterpart of a cryptic species duo including, Lottia austrodigitalis. Allele frequency differences between southern and northern populations at two polymorphic enzyme loci provided the basis for this claim. Due to lack of further evidence, L. austrodigitalis is still largely unrecognized in the literature. Seven additional enzyme loci were examined from populations in proposed zones of allopatry and sympatry to determine the existence of L. austrodigitalis as a sibling species to L. digitalis. Significant allele frequency differences were found at five enzyme loci between populations in Laguna Beach, southern California, and Bodega Bay, northern California; strongly supporting the existence of separate species. Both species exhibit two microhabitat morphotypes, a gooseneck barnacle morph in the mid-intertidal zone and a rock morph in the high-intertidal zone. In sympatry, L. austrodigitalis was more abundant higher in the intertidal on rocks, whereas L. digitalis was more abundant lower in the intertidal on barnacles. This finding supports earlier claims of microhabitat partitioning in this sibling species pair. In addition to this finding, the transition zone between the species was found to have shifted substantially northward in only two decades, from Monterey Peninsula, CA to near Pigeon Point, CA, where L. digitalis previously dominated.

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