Phylogeography and species distribution modelling reveal the effects of the Pleistocene ice ages on an intertidal limpet from the south-eastern Pacific

María Cecilia Pardo-Gandarillas, Christian M. Ibáñez, Felipe I. Torres, Víctor Sanhueza, Alejandra Fabres, Joaquín Escobar-Dodero, Fernando O. Mardones, Marco A. Méndez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Aim: The distribution and genetic composition of marine populations is the result of climatic and oceanographic factors as well as life history strategies. Studying species with wide distributions and high dispersal potential in sites that were differentially affected during the Pleistocene glaciations provides an opportunity to evaluate the genetic and distributional effect of glaciations on marine populations, such as the limpet Siphonaria lesonii. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the differential effects of glaciations on areas covered and not covered by ice sheets during the Pleistocene glaciations. Location: Intertidal zone of the south-eastern Pacific covering approximately 5,000 km of coastline of Peru and Chile. Methods: We performed molecular analyses of mitochondrial and nuclear data jointly, as well as environmental niche modelling (ENM) of populations of the limpet Siphonaria lessonii. Using ENM, we modelled the potential distributional range of the species in the present and its distribution during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Results: Two lineages were found that were separated by a break at 41° S, corresponding to the biogeographical discontinuity previously reported for this region. Both of these lineages experienced genetic and demographical fluctuations that match the Pleistocene glaciations; however, the variability was more intense in the southern lineage. Phylogeography and ENM yielded complementary results for the southern lineage, which experienced loss of genetic diversity and habitat during the LGM, whereas the northern lineage evidenced loss of genetic diversity without distributional changes. Main conclusions: The phylogeographical and ENM approaches suggest a historical scenario involving demographic and distributional contractions of S. lessonii surviving in glacial refugia in the southern portion of the south-eastern Pacific. This study is the first to include both phylogeographical and ENM analyses of marine species from the Southern Hemisphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1751-1767
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2018


  • biogeographical barrier
  • connectivity
  • dispersal
  • environmental niche modelling
  • glacial cycles
  • larval planktotrophic
  • Last Glacial Maximum
  • Siphonariidae
  • south-eastern Pacific
  • Southern Hemisphere

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology


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