Large-scale connectivity of Grapsus grapsus (Decapoda) in the Southwestern Atlantic oceanic islands: integrating genetic and morphometric data

Mariana M. Teschima*, Patrícia R. Strӧher, Carina R. Firkowski, Marcio R. Pie, Andrea S. Freire

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (journal)peer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The degree of connectivity among island populations can influence their demography and affect their level of genetic differentiation. In this study we investigated genetic and morphometric differences among four populations of Grapsus grapsus (Linnaeus 1758), in Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago (0°55′ N, 29°20′ W), Fernando de Noronha Archipelago (3°50′ S, 32°24′ W), Rocas Atoll (3°50′ S, 33°49′ W) and Trindade Island (20°30′ S, 29°20′ W) from 2003 to 2011. Morphometric results indicated the existence of two distinct groups based on the morphology of their chelae (Trindade Island/Saint Peter and Saint Paul Archipelago versus Fernando de Noronha/Rocas Atoll). In addition, genetic variation in a fragment of the mitochondrial control region revealed substantial differentiation between Trindade and the other islands, with Trindade Island showing only exclusive haplotypes. The congruence of the genetic and morphologic analyses suggests the occurrence of a divergent population in Trindade Island as well as high connectivity among the three remaining equatorial islands. This is the first study to assess the level of morphologic differentiation and genetic connectivity of a species among all four Southwestern Atlantic oceanic islands. Our results provide valuable insight into understanding connectivity through surface ocean currents and suggest that the unstable current system of this area could be responsible for different dispersal patterns. We also suggest that the design of Brazilian marine protected areas should be adjusted to provide stronger protection for Trindade Island as it harbors unique genetic and morphologic variation in G. grapsus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1360-1372
Number of pages13
JournalMarine Ecology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2016


  • Crab populations
  • morphometrics
  • mtDNA sequences
  • surface currents


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