Population Expansion and Genetic Structure in Carcharhinus brevipinna

paper3Published on 25. September 2013

Population Expansion and Genetic Structure in Carcharhinus brevipinna in the Southern Indo-Pacific

Pascal T. Geraghty, Jane E. Williamson, William G. Macbeth, Sabine P. Wintner, Alastair V. Harry, Jennifer R. Ovenden, Michael R. Gillings


Quantifying genetic diversity and metapopulation structure provides insights into the evolutionary history of a species and helps develop appropriate management strategies. We provide the first assessment of genetic structure in spinner sharks (Carcharhinus brevipinna), a large cosmopolitan carcharhinid, sampled from eastern and northern Australia and South Africa.

Methods and Findings
Sequencing of the mitochondrial DNA NADH dehydrogenase subunit 4 gene for 430 individuals revealed 37 haplotypes and moderately high haplotype diversity (h = 0.6770 ±0.025). While two metrics of genetic divergence (ΦST and FST) revealed somewhat different results, subdivision was detected between South Africa and all Australian locations (pairwise ΦST, range 0.02717–0.03508, p values ≤ 0.0013; pairwise FST South Africa vs New South Wales = 0.04056, p = 0.0008). Evidence for fine-scale genetic structuring was also detected along Australia’s east coast (pairwise ΦST = 0.01328, p < 0.015), and between south-eastern and northern locations (pairwise ΦST = 0.00669, p < 0.04).

The Indian Ocean represents a robust barrier to contemporary gene flow in C. brevipinna between Australia and South Africa. Gene flow also appears restricted along a continuous continental margin in this species, with data tentatively suggesting the delineation of two management units within Australian waters. Further sampling, however, is required for a more robust evaluation of the latter finding. Evidence indicates that all sampled populations were shaped by a substantial demographic expansion event, with the resultant high genetic diversity being cause for optimism when considering conservation of this commercially-targeted species in the southern Indo-Pacific.

PLoS ONE 8(9): e75169. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0075169




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