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Resource-associated divergence in the arctic marine amphipod Paramphithoe hystrix
Schnabel, K.E.; Hebert, P.D.N. (2003). Resource-associated divergence in the arctic marine amphipod Paramphithoe hystrix. Mar. Biol. (Berl.) 143(5): 851-857.
In: Marine Biology. Springer: Heidelberg; Berlin. ISSN 0025-3162, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Schnabel, K.E.
  • Hebert, P.D.N.

    Host specialization has played an important role in the speciation of groups such as herbivorous insects and parasitic invertebrates. In this study, we provide evidence for its role in the diversification of the amphipod Paramphithoe hystrix Ross 1835 in Arctic marine waters. This species lives and feeds on the tissues of varied invertebrate hosts that are much larger than itself, including poriferans, hydrozoans and echinoderms, acting as a 'micropredator'. We examined the genetic structure of P. hystrix at sites in the Canadian Arctic where it is represented by a white form found on the light-coloured sea star Solaster endeca, a red form on the pink soft coral Gersemia rubriformis and by a spotted form with an unidentified host. These phenotypes occur in microallopatry, sometimes occupying alternate hosts just a few metres apart. Although their variation in host associates might have arisen from ingested host tissue, our results indicate that these morphs are genetically distinct. Mitochondrial (cytochrome c oxidase I) and nuclear (28S ribosomal RNA) gene sequences, as well as allozyme data all show strong genetic divergence between the three colour morphs, demonstrating their reproductive isolation. These results suggest that P. hystrix is a complex of at least three species, which may have arisen as a result of disruptive selection following host switches. Moreover, the depths of genetic divergence indicate that diversification of this complex was complete prior to the Pleistocene.

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