Divergence in proteins, mitochondrial DNA, and reproductive compatibility across the isthmus of Panama

Science  11 Jun 1993:
Vol. 260, Issue 5114, pp. 1629-1632
DOI: 10.1126/science.8503007


It is widely believed that gene flow connected many shallow water populations of the Caribbean and eastern Pacific until the Panama seaway closed 3.0 to 3.5 million years ago. Measurements of biochemical and reproductive divergence for seven closely related, transisthmian pairs of snapping shrimps (Alpheus) indicate, however, that isolation was staggered rather than simultaneous. The four least divergent pairs provide the best estimate for rates of molecular divergence and speciation. Ecological, genetic, and geological data suggest that gene flow was disrupted for the remaining three pairs by environmental change several million years before the land barrier was complete.

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