Ben Alaya, Hajer and Sanna, Daria and Casu, Marco and Biagi, Francesca and Francalacci, Paolo and Carcupino, Marcella and Galzin, René and Quignard, Jean Pierre and Trabelsi, Monia (2011) Analysis of meristic and mitochondrial DNA variation in Syngnathus abaster (Teleostea: Syngnathidae) from two western Mediterranean lagoons. Biologia, Vol. 66 (6), p. 1140-1147. eISSN 1336-9563. Article.
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Syngnathus abaster is a euryhaline pipefish distributed in the Mediterranean, Black Sea, and the north-eastern Atlantic. Although its populations are characterised by high morphological plasticity, neither congruent information about the morphological differentiation of S. abaster populations from the Mediterranean lagoons is available, nor population genetic surveys have been so far performed. In this context, the aims of our study were as follow: i) to describe the variation at nine meristic characters of S. abaster from two western Mediterranean brackish-water areas: the Tunis north lagoon (Tunisia) and the Mauguio lagoon (France); ii) to analyse sequences of four mitochondrial DNA regions in order to evaluate the occurrence of genetic variation between the two areas, if any. The morphological survey revealed a subdivision into two distinct groups: the first included the Tunisian specimens, the second the French ones. Genetic analysis evidenced the occurrence of a sharp genetic structuring with high levels of genetic differentiation between Tunisian and French S. abaster populations. Results suggest that the evolutionary forces driven by the different biogeographical and ecological conditions of the two Mediterranean brackish-water areas have boosted the morphological and genetic divergence of the populations here analysed. The scarce potential of long-distance dispersal of S. abaster may have also enhanced the divergence retrieved.
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