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Reef Fish Dispersal In The Hawaiian Archipelago: Comparative Phylogeography Of Three Endemic Damselfishes

Kimberly A. Tenggardjaja, Brian W. Bowen, Giacomo Bernardi

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Endemic marine species at remote oceanic islands provide opportunities to investigate the proposed correlation between range size and dispersal ability. Because these species have restricted geographic ranges, it is assumed that they have limited dispersal ability, which consequently would be reflected in high population genetic structure. To assess this relationship at a small scale and to determine if it may be related to specific reef fish families, here we employ a phylogeographic survey of three endemic Hawaiian damselfishes:Abudefduf abdominalis,Chromis ovalis, andChromis verater. Data from mitochondrial markers cytochromeband control region revealed low but significant genetic structure in all three species. Combining these results with data from a previous study onDascyllus albisellaandStegastes marginatus, all five endemic damselfish species surveyed to date show evidence of genetic structure, in contrast with other widespread reef fish species that lack structure within the Hawaiian Archipelago. Though individual patterns of connectivity varied, these five species showed a trend of limited connectivity between the atolls and low-lying Northwestern Hawaiian Islands versus the montane Main Hawaiian Islands, indicating that, at least for damselfishes, the protected reefs of the uninhabited northwest will not replenish depleted reefs in the populated Main Hawaiian Islands.