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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2016, Article ID 3251814, 17 pages
Research Article

Reef Fish Dispersal in the Hawaiian Archipelago: Comparative Phylogeography of Three Endemic Damselfishes

1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Santa Cruz, 100 Shaffer Road, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
2Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii, P.O. Box 1346, Kaneohe, HI 96744, USA

Received 2 November 2015; Accepted 8 March 2016

Academic Editor: Yehuda Benayahu

Copyright © 2016 Kimberly A. Tenggardjaja et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Endemic marine species at remote oceanic islands provide opportunities to investigate the proposed correlation between range size and dispersal ability. Because these species have restricted geographic ranges, it is assumed that they have limited dispersal ability, which consequently would be reflected in high population genetic structure. To assess this relationship at a small scale and to determine if it may be related to specific reef fish families, here we employ a phylogeographic survey of three endemic Hawaiian damselfishes: Abudefduf abdominalis, Chromis ovalis, and Chromis verater. Data from mitochondrial markers cytochrome b and control region revealed low but significant genetic structure in all three species. Combining these results with data from a previous study on Dascyllus albisella and Stegastes marginatus, all five endemic damselfish species surveyed to date show evidence of genetic structure, in contrast with other widespread reef fish species that lack structure within the Hawaiian Archipelago. Though individual patterns of connectivity varied, these five species showed a trend of limited connectivity between the atolls and low-lying Northwestern Hawaiian Islands versus the montane Main Hawaiian Islands, indicating that, at least for damselfishes, the protected reefs of the uninhabited northwest will not replenish depleted reefs in the populated Main Hawaiian Islands.