There has been much recent interest in the extent to which marine planktonic larvae connect local populations demographically and genetically. Uncertainties about the true extent of larval dispersal have impeded our understanding of the ecology and evolution of marine species as well as our attempts to effectively manage marine populations. Because direct measurements of larval movements are difficult, genetic markers have often been used for indirect measurements of gene flow among marine populations. Here we examine data from allozymes, mitochondrial DNA sequences, and microsatellite length polymorphisms to assess the extent of gene flow among populations of the burrowing crustacean Callichirus islagrande. All three types of markers revealed a genetic break between populations separated by the Louisiana Chenier Plain. The extent of mitochondrial sequence divergence across this break indicates that the nominal species, C. islagrande, consists of at least two lineages that have been reproductively isolated for about a million years. Within the eastern lineage microsatellite allele frequencies were significantly heterogeneous among populations as little as 10 km apart. Maximum likelihood estimates of gene flow and effective population size based on a coalescent model for the microsatellite data indicated that local populations are nearly closed. A model-based clustering method identified four or five groups from the microsatellite data, although individuals sampled from each location generally consisted of mixtures of these groups. This suggests a mechanism that would lead to genetic differentiation of open populations: gene flow from different source populations that are themselves genetically distinct.
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Vol. 59 • No. 10