Do artificial structures alter marine invertebrate genetic makeup?
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Human-made structures are increasingly built in marine coastal habitats for a variety of purposes. Offshore oil and gas production platforms are among the largest examples. Yet, biological effects of these increasing density artificial substrata are under evaluated. The objective of our study is to investigate the possible role of offshore platforms in modifying the genetic composition of populations of natural rocky shores species. The serpulid Pomatoceros triqueter was used as a model, and genetic variation was assessed using a 419 bp fragment of the mtDNA COI gene in samples collected on eleven offshore gas platforms, on one coastal buoy on the sandy shore and in four sites located on natural rocky shores in the Adriatic Sea. Deep phylogenetic lineages were uncovered over all samples. Nucleotide diversity and mean number of pairwise differences among haplotypes were significantly smaller in offshore platform samples compared to rocky shores samples. No significant genetic structure was observed over all samples. We found direct evidence of lower genetic diversity on platforms confirming that, although artificial structures attract and support species typical of hard bottoms, they are not analogues of natural rocky habitats.
CitationFauvelot, C.; Costantini, F.; Virgilio, M.; Abbiati, M. (2012). Do artificial structures alter marine invertebrate genetic makeup?. , Marine Biology, Vol. in press,