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Allozymic Differentiation Among Geographically Distant Populations of Patella vulgata (Mollusca, Patellogastropoda)

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Patella vulgata is a boreal cold temperate species and is the dominant limpet in northern Europe. Few works have focussed on the population genetics of this species. Therefore, the aim of this work was to assess the degree of genetic and morphological differentiation of P. vulgata on a macroscale by using 20 allozyme loci and 6 morphological variables. Samples were taken from the following locations: Dingle Peninsula (Southwest Ireland), Port Erin (Southwest Isle of Man), St. Bees Head (north Cumbria, England), St. Agnes Head (north Cornwall, England), Cellar Beach (south Devon, England), Whitley Bay (north Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, England), Sines (Portugal), and Pointe de Chanchardon, La Rochelle (Bay of Biscay, France). Morphological variables were analysed by the multivariate Canonical discriminant analysis. Genetic variation was assessed by diversity measures such as polymorphism and heterozygosity; genetic subdivision of P. vulgata population was determined by the estimator ? of F ST, and the genetic similarity between populations was measured by Nei’s genetic identity. No significant morphological differentiation was observed among samples. Moderate genetic population subdivision was observed (? = 0.137±0.074) despite great geographic distances. The minimum genetic identity observed was between Ireland and France (I = 0.942) and maximum was observed between Portugal and north-east England (I=0.998). Two main groups were shown by UPGMA cluster analysis (I = 0.965). One formed by Irish, Manx, north Cumbria, and curiously, south Devon samples, while the second includes Portuguese, French, north-Newcastle-upon-thyne, and north Cornwall samples. No association (g = 0.956; p>0.050) was found between pair-wise genetic divergence and geographic distance separating subpopulations, mainly due to an unexpected pattern of genetic heterogeneity found in Southwest England.

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