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Patterns of genetic structuring and levels of differentiation in supralittoral talitrid amphipods: an overview

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image of Crustaceana

Talitrids are the only family within the order Amphipoda to have colonised supralittoral and terrestrial environments. They live in a variety of settings, from sandy to rocky and pebble beaches, to river and lake banks, and to leaf litter and caves. A common feature is the absence of a planktonic larval stage to facilitate passive dispersal over long-distances. However, some species have broad distributions. Genetic studies over the past 25 years have tried to explain this apparent contradiction by assessing patterns of species genetic structuring on different geographical scales. Here, we review the molecular studies available to date and focus on the population genetics of talitrids. Most of these studies considered populations in the Mediterranean area, but also along the Atlantic coast and in Canary Island caves. From this review, the group emerges as a potential model to understand processes of dispersal and divergence in non-highly-vagile supralittoral organisms. At the same time, studies on these issues are still too restricted geographically: a worldwide scale including different regions would provide us with a better perspective on these problems.


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