We studied the genetic diversity of a coral reef fish species to investigate the origin of the differentiation. A total of 727 Acanthurus triostegus collected from 15 locations throughout the Pacific were analyzed for 20 polymorphic loci. The genetic structure showed limited internal disequilibrium within each population; 3.7% of the loci showed significant Hardy-Weinberg disequilibrium, mostly associated with Adh*, and we subsequently removed this locus from further analysis of geographic pattern. The genetic structure of A. triostegus throughout the tropical Pacific Ocean revealed a strong geographic pattern. Overall, there was significant population differentiation (multilocus FST = 0.199), which was geographically structured according to bootstraps of neighbor-joining analysis on Nei's unbiased genetic distances and AMOVA analysis. The genetic structure revealed five geographic groups in the Pacific Ocean: western Pacific (Guam, Philippines, Palau, and Great Barrier Reef); central Pacific (Solomons, New Caledonia, and Fiji); and three groups made up of the eastern populations, namely Hawaiian Archipelago (north), Marquesas (equatorial), and southern French Polynesia (south) that incorporates Clipperton Island located in the northeastern Pacific. In addition, heterozygosity values were found to be geographically structured with higher values grouped within Polynesian and Clipperton populations, which exhibited lower population size. Finally, the genetic differentiation (FST) was significantly correlated with geographic distance when populations from the Hawaiian and Marquesas archipelagos were separated from all the other locations. These results show that patterns of differentiation vary within the same species according to the spatial scale, with one group probably issued from vicariance, whereas the other followed a pattern of isolation by distance. The geographic pattern for A. triostegus emphasizes the diversity of the evolutionary processes that lead to the present genetic structure with some being more influential in certain areas or according to a particular spatial scale.
Corresponding Editor: L. Bernatchez