University Of Tasmania
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Mechanisms of peripheral phylogeographic divergence in the indo-Pacific: lessons from the spiny lobster Panulirus homarus

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posted on 2023-05-19, 12:32 authored by Farhadi, A, Jeffs, AG, Farahmand, H, Rejiniemon, TS, Gregory SmithGregory Smith, Lavery, SD


There is increasing recognition of the concordance between marine biogeographic and phylogeographic boundaries. However, it is still unclear how population-level divergence translates into species-level divergence, and what are the principal factors that first initiate that divergence, and then maintain reproductive isolation. This study examines the likely forces driving population and lineage divergences in the broadly-distributed Indo-Pacific spiny lobster Panulirus homarus, which has peripheral divergent lineages in the west and east. The study focuses particularly on the West Indian Ocean, which is emerging as a region of unexpected diversity. Mitochondrial control region (mtCR) and COI sequences as well as genotypes of 9 microsatellite loci were examined in 410 individuals from 17 locations grouped into 7 regions from South Africa in the west, and eastward across to Taiwan and the Marquesas Islands. Phylogenetic and population-level analyses were used to test the significance and timing of divergences and describe the genetic relationships among populations.


Analyses of the mtCR revealed high levels of divergence among the seven regions (ФST = 0.594, P < 0.001). Microsatellite analyses also revealed significant divergence among regions, but at a much lower level (FST = 0.066, P < 0.001). The results reveal different patterns of mtCR v. nDNA divergence between the two distinct peripheral lineages: a subspecies in South Africa and Madagascar, and a phylogeographically diverged population in the Marquesas. The results also expose a number of other more fine-scale population divergences, particularly in the Indian Ocean.


The divergence of peripheral lineages in the west and east of the species’ range appear to have been initiated and maintained by very different processes. The pattern of mitochondrial and nuclear divergence of the western lineage, implicates processes of parapatric isolation, secondary contact and introgression, and suggests possible maintenance through adaptation and behavioural reproductive isolation. In contrast, the eastern lineage appears to have diverged through a rare colonisation event, maintained through long-term isolation, and matches expectations of the core-periphery hypothesis. The process of active peripheral speciation may be a common force in the Indo-Pacific that helps drive some of the regions’ recognized biogeographic boundaries.


Australian Research Council

UTAS Nexus Aquasciences Pty Ltd


Publication title

BMC Evolutionary Biology



Article number









Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Biomed Central Ltd

Place of publication

Middlesex House, 34-42 Cleveland St, London, England, W1T 4Lb

Rights statement

Copyright 2017 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Fisheries - aquaculture not elsewhere classified