Is the Scotia Sea a centre of Antarctic marine diversification? Some evidence of cryptic speciation in the circum-Antarctic bivalve Lissarca notorcadensis (Arcoidea: Philobryidae)
The bivalve Lissarca notorcadensis is one of the most abundant species in Antarctic waters and has colonised the entire Antarctic shelf and Scotia Sea Islands. Its brooding reproduction, low dispersal capabilities and epizoic lifestyle predict limited gene flow between geographically isolated populations. Relationships between specimens from seven regions in the Southern Ocean and outgroups were assessed with nuclear 28S rDNA and mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase subunit I (COI) genes. The 28S dataset indicate that while Lissarca appears to be a monophyletic genus, there is polyphyly between the Limopsidae and Philobryidae. Thirteen CO1 haplotypes were found, mostly unique to the sample regions, and two distinct lineages were distinguished. Specimens from the Weddell and Ross Sea form one lineage while individuals from the banks and islands of the Scotia Sea form the other. Within each lineage, further vicariance was observed forming six regionally isolated groups. Our results provide initial evidence for reproductively isolated populations of L. notorcadensis. The islands of the Scotia Sea appear to act as centres of speciation in the Southern Ocean.