Constrained body shape among highly genetically divergent allopatric lineages of the supralittoral isopod Ligia occidentalis (Oniscidea). Academic Article uri icon


  • Multiple highly divergent lineages have been identified within Ligia occidentalis sensu lato, a rocky supralittoral isopod distributed along a ~3000km latitudinal gradient that encompasses several proposed marine biogeographic provinces and ecoregions in the eastern Pacific. Highly divergent lineages have nonoverlapping geographic distributions, with distributional limits that generally correspond with sharp environmental changes. Crossbreeding experiments suggest postmating reproductive barriers exist among some of them, and surveys of mitochondrial and nuclear gene markers do not show evidence of hybridization. Populations are highly isolated, some of which appear to be very small; thus, the effects of drift are expected to reduce the efficiency of selection. Large genetic divergences among lineages, marked environmental differences in their ranges, reproductive isolation, and/or high isolation of populations may have resulted in morphological differences in L. occidentalis, not detected yet by traditional taxonomy. We used landmark-based geometric morphometric analyses to test for differences in body shape among highly divergent lineages of L. occidentalis, and among populations within these lineages. We analyzed a total of 492 individuals from 53 coastal localities from the southern California Bight to Central Mexico, including the Gulf of California. We conducted discriminant function analyses (DFAs) on body shape morphometrics to assess morphological variation among genetically differentiated lineages and their populations. We also tested for associations between phylogeny and morphological variation, and whether genetic divergence is correlated to multivariate morphological divergence. We detected significant differences in body shape among highly divergent lineages, and among populations within these lineages. Nonetheless, neither lineages nor populations can be discriminated on the basis of body shape, because correct classification rates of cross-validated DFAs were low. Genetic distance and phylogeny had weak to no effect on body shape variation. The supralittoral environment appears to exert strong stabilizing selection and/or strong functional constraints on body shape in L. occidentalis, thereby leading to morphological stasis in this isopod.

published proceedings

  • Ecol Evol

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Santamaria, C. A., Mateos, M., DeWitt, T. J., & Hurtado, L. A.

citation count

  • 16

complete list of authors

  • Santamaria, Carlos A||Mateos, Mariana||DeWitt, Thomas J||Hurtado, Luis A

publication date

  • March 2016