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Genetic structure of the crown-of-thorns seastar in the Pacific Ocean, with focus on Guam
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology, Biology, Department of Ecology and Genetics, Evolutionary Biology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-0612-9230
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2016 (English)In: PeerJ, ISSN 2167-8359, E-ISSN 2167-8359, Vol. 4Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Population outbreaks of the corallivorous crown-of-thorns seastar (COTS), Acanthaster ‘planci’ L., are among the most important biological disturbances of tropical coral reefs. Over the past 50 years, several devastating outbreaks have been documented around Guam, an island in the western Pacific Ocean. Previous analyses have shown that in the Pacific Ocean, COTS larval dispersal may be geographically restricted to certain regions. Here, we assess the genetic structure of Pacific COTS populations and compared samples from around Guam with a number of distant localities in the Pacific Ocean, and focused on determining the degree of genetic structure among populations previously considered to be isolated. Using microsatellites, we document substantial genetic structure between 14 localities from different geographical regions in the Pacific Ocean. Populations from the 14 locations sampled were found to be structured in three significantly differentiated groups: (1) all locations immediately around Guam, as well as Kingman Reef and Swains Island; (2) Japan, Philippines, GBR and Vanuatu; and (3) Johnston Atoll, which was significantly different from all other localities. The lack of genetic differentiation between Guam and extremely distant populations from Kingman Reef and Swains Island suggests potential long-distance dispersal of COTS in the Pacific.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 4
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Evolutionary Biology
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-390734DOI: 10.7717/peerj.1970OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-390734DiVA, id: diva2:1342618
Available from: 2019-08-14 Created: 2019-08-14 Last updated: 2019-08-22Bibliographically approved

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