Connectivity in the cold: the comparative population genetics of vent-endemic fauna in the Scotia Sea, Southern Ocean

C. N. Roterman*, J. T. Copley, K. T. Linse, P. A. Tyler, A. D. Rogers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We report the first comparative population genetics study for vent fauna in the Southern Ocean using cytochrome C oxidase I and microsatellite markers. Three species are examined: the kiwaid squat lobster, Kiwa tyleri, the peltospirid gastropod, Gigantopelta chessoia, and a lepetodrilid limpet, Lepetodrilus sp., collected from vent fields 440 km apart on the East Scotia Ridge (ESR) and from the Kemp Caldera on the South Sandwich Island Arc, ~95 km eastwards. We report no differentiation for all species across the ESR, consistent with panmixia or recent range expansions. A lack of differentiation is notable for Kiwa tyleri, which exhibits extremely abbreviated lecithotrophic larval development, suggestive of a very limited dispersal range. Larval lifespans may, however, be extended by low temperature-induced metabolic rate reduction in the Southern Ocean, muting the impact of dispersal strategy on patterns of population structure. COI diversity patterns suggest all species experienced demographic bottlenecks or selective sweeps in the past million years and possibly at different times. ESR and Kemp limpets are divergent, although with evidence of very recent ESR-Kemp immigration. Their divergence, possibility indicative of incipient speciation, along with the absence of the other two species at Kemp, may be the consequence of differing dispersal capabilities across a ∼1000 m depth range and/or different selective regimes between the two areas. Estimates of historic and recent limpet gene flow between the ESR and Kemp are consistent with predominantly easterly currents and potentially therefore, cross-axis currents on the ESR, with biogeographic implications for the region.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1073-1088
Number of pages16
JournalMolecular Ecology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • connectivity
  • Gigantopelta
  • hydrothermal vents
  • Kiwa
  • Lepetodrilus
  • Southern Ocean
  • RCUK
  • NERC
  • NE/DO1249X/1
  • NE/F005504/1
  • NE/D01429X/1


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