Vicariance and dispersal across Baja California in disjunct marine fish populations

Evolution. 2003 Jul;57(7):1599-609. doi: 10.1111/j.0014-3820.2003.tb00367.x.


Population disjunctions, as a first step toward complete allopatry, present an interesting situation to study incipient speciation. The geological formation of the Baja California Peninsula currently divides 19 species of fish into disjunct populations that are found on its Pacific Coast and in the northern part of the Gulf of California (also called the Sea of Cortez), but are absent from the Cape (Cabo San Lucas) region. We studied the genetic makeup of disjunct populations for 12 of these 19 fish species. Phylogeographic patterns for the 12 species can be separated into two major classes: a first group (eight species) showed reciprocal monophyly and high genetic divergence between disjunct populations. A second group (four species) displayed what appeared to be panmictic populations. Population structure between Pacific Coast populations, across the Punta Eugenia biogeographic boundary, was also evaluated. While dispersal potential (inferred by pelagic larval duration) was a poor predictor of population structure between Gulf of California and Pacific populations, we found that population genetic subdivision along the Pacific Coast at Punta Eugenia was always positively correlated with differentiation between Pacific and Gulf of California populations. Vicariant events, ongoing gene flow, and ecological characteristics played essential roles in shaping the population structures observed in this study.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biodiversity*
  • Cluster Analysis
  • DNA Primers
  • Fishes / genetics*
  • Fishes / physiology
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Geography*
  • Geological Phenomena
  • Geology
  • Isoenzymes
  • Mexico
  • Movement / physiology*
  • Pacific Ocean
  • Phylogeny*
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA Primers
  • Isoenzymes