Offshore environments are increasingly invaded by man-made structures that form hard-substrate habitats for many marine species. Examples include oil and gas platforms, wind turbines and shipwrecks. One of the hypothesised effects is an increased genetic connectivity among natural populations due to new populations growing on man-made structures that may act as stepping stones. However, few data are available on genetic connectivity among organisms inhabiting artificial offshore structures. Here, we present a study on the common fouling amphipod Jassa herdmani from offshore structures in the southern North Sea. Partial mitochondrial DNA sequences (cytochrome-c-oxidase 1, N = 514) were obtained from artificial structures at 17 locations in the southern North Sea, including 13 shipwrecks, 2 wind turbines and 2 platforms. Samples from these locations were significantly differentiated, meaning that strong population structure exists for this species in the area. Levels of intraspecific variation were consistent with stable population sizes. No evidence was found for isolation by distance. Using coalescent simulations, the oldest population subdivision events were estimated to date back to the time the study area was flooded following the Last Glacial Maximum. We therefore tentatively conclude that J. herdmani may have colonised man-made structures from previously existing populations on the sea floor, and that the increase in offshore installations has not led to an overall increase in genetic connectivity for this species.
Low genetic connectivity in a fouling amphipod among man-made structures in the southern North Sea
Title: Low genetic connectivity in a fouling amphipod among man-made structures in the southern North Sea
April 18, 2019
Journal: Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS)
Publisher: Inter-Research Science Publisher
Luttikhuizen, P.; Beermann, J.; Crooijmans, R.; Jak, R.; Coolen, J. (2019). Low genetic connectivity in a fouling amphipod among man-made structures in the southern North Sea. Marine Ecology Progress Series (MEPS), 615, 133-142.