Population genomics of Nymphon australe Hodgson, 1902 (Pycnogonida, Nymphonidae) in the Western Antarctic

E. E. Collins, M. P. Galaska, K. M. Halanych, A. R. Mahon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Within the Southern Ocean, the Antarctic Circumpolar Current is hypothesized to facilitate a circumpolar distribution for many taxa, even though some, such as pycnogonids, are assumed to have limited ability to disperse, based on brooding life histories and adult ambulatory capabilities. With a number of contradictions to circumpolarity reported in the literature for other pycnogonids, alternative hypotheses have been explored, particularly for Nymphon australe, the most common species of Pycnogonida (sea spider) in the Southern Ocean. Glacial events have been hypothesized to impact the capacity of organisms to colonize suitable areas without ice coverage as refuge and without the eurybathic capacity to colonize deeper areas. In this study, we examine populations of one presumed circumpolar species, the pycnogonid N. australe, from throughout the Western Antarctic, using a 2b-RAD approach to detect genetic variation with single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Using this approach, we found that N. australe included two distinct groups from within >5000-km sampling region. By using a discriminant analysis of principle components, sparse nonnegative matrix factorization, and admixture coefficient analysis, two distinctive populations were revealed in the Western Antarctic: one covered distances greater than 5000 km (Weddell, Western Antarctic Peninsula, and Ross Sea), and the other shared limited connectivity en-trained within the Amundsen Sea. Under further scrutiny of the 3086 single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the data set, only 78 loci had alignment stacks between the two populations. We propose that the populations analyzed are divergent enough to constitute two different species from within this common Antarctic genus known for its phenotypic plasticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)180-191
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Bulletin
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2018


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