Systematics of the North American menhadens: molecular evolutionary reconstructions in the genus Brevoortia (Clupeiformes: Clupeidae)


Anderson, Joel D.
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Evolutionary associations among the four North American species of menhadens (Brevoortia spp.) have not been thoroughly investigated. In the present study, classifications separating the four species into small-scaled and large-scaled groups were evaluated by using DNA data, and genetic associations within these groups were explored. Specifically, data from the nuclear genome (microsatellites) and the mitochondrial genome (mtDNA sequences) were used to elicit patterns of recent and historical evolutionary associations. Nuclear DNA data indicated limited contemporary gene flow among the species, and also indicated higher relatedness within the small-scaled and large-scaled menhadens than between these groups. Mitochondrial DNA sequences of the large-scaled menhadens indicated the presence of two ancestral lineages, one of which contained members of both species. This result may indicate genetic divergence (reproductive isolation) followed by secondary contact (hybridization) between these species. In contrast, a single ancestral lineage indicated incomplete genetic divergence between the small-scaled menhaden. These results are discussed in the context of the biology and demographics of each species.