The copepod Eurytemora affinis has a broad geographic range within the Northern Hemisphere, inhabiting coastal regions of North America, Asia, and Europe. A phylogenetic approach was used to determine levels of genetic differentiation among populations of this species, and interpopulation crosses were performed to determine reproductive compatibility. DNA sequences from two mitochondrial genes, large subunit (16S) rRNA (450 bp) and cytochrome oxidase I (COI, 652 bp), were obtained from 38 populations spanning most of the species range and from two congeneric species, E. americana and E. herdmani. Phylogenetic analysis revealed a polytomy of highly divergent clades with maximum sequence divergences of 10% in 16S rRNA and 19% in COI. A power test (difference of a proportion) revealed that amount of sequence data collected was sufficient for resolving speciation events occurring at intervals greater than 300,000 years, but insufficient for determining whether speciation events were approximately simultaneous. Geographic and genetic distances were not correlated (Mantel's test; r = 0.023, P = 0.25), suggesting that populations had not differentiated through gradual isolation by distance. At finer spatial scales, there was almost no sharing of mtDNA haplotypes among proximate populations, indicating little genetic exchange even between nearby sites. Interpopulation crosses demonstrated reproductive incompatibility among genetically distinct populations, including those that were sympatric. Most notably, two geographically distant (4000 km) but genetically proximate (0.96% 16S, 0.15% COI) populations exhibited asymmetric reproductive isolation at the F2 generation. Large genetic divergences and reproductive isolation indicate that the morphologically conservative E. affinis constitutes a sibling species complex. Reproductive isolation between genetically proximate populations underscores the importance of using multiple measures to examine patterns of speciation.
Editor: B. Bowen