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Advances in the aquatic sciences

Mitochondrial DNA variation of the west-coast rock lobster, Jasus lalandii: marked genetic diversity differences among sampling sites

Conrad A. Matthee A D , Andrew C. Cockcroft B , Keshni Gopal A C and Sophie von der Heyden A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Evolutionary Genomics Group, Department of Botany and Zoology, University of Stellenbosch, Private Bag X1, Matieland, Stellenbosch, 7602, South Africa.

B Marine and Coastal Management, Department of Environment and Tourism, Private Bag X2, Roggebay, Cape Town, 8012, South Africa.

C Present Address: South African National Biodiversity Institute, Kirstenbosch Research Center, Private Bag X7, Claremont, 7735, South Africa.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Marine and Freshwater Research 58(12) 1130-1135
Submitted: 27 July 2007  Accepted: 7 November 2007   Published: 13 December 2007


Jasus lalandii (Milne-Edwards 1837), the west-coast rock lobster, occurs in the shallow, cool–temperate waters along the south and west coasts of southern Africa. This species has a long history of intensive exploitation, which has had a significant impact on population numbers in the past. To enhance our current understanding of lobster population structuring, genetic data from the mitochondrial (mt) DNA 16S rRNA gene was generated for 235 adult individuals collected at eight sampling sites. Most individuals (59.6%) share a common haplotype and 35 unique haplotypes were dispersed throughout the range. In total, 97.2% of the variation was found among individuals within sampling sites and 2.8% was among sites. Pairwise ΦST analyses revealed shallow, yet significant structure between Hout Bay individuals and some other sampling sites. The J. lalandii haplotype network indicates a starlike structure with no geographic signal; however, genetic diversity sharply decreases towards the edges of the species distribution. The general lack of phylogeographic structure among J. lalandii populations probably results from the absence of strong barriers to larval dispersal. Based on our mtDNA data there is no justification for the recognition of separate fishing stocks, but the high genetic diversities of populations at Hout Bay and Cape Hangklip, the latter currently outside of marine protected areas, makes these populations critical to conservation efforts.

Additional keywords: 16S rRNA, population structure, South Africa.


The skippers and crew of various vessels and the technical staff of the Rock Lobster Section, Marine and Coastal Management are thanked for the collection of lobster samples. The authors also acknowledge the University of Stellenbosch, National Research Foundation (FA2005040400057) and Marine and Coastal Management for proving funding. A SABI (NRF) bursary supported Keshni Gopal and Sophie von der Heyden received financial support in the form of a freestanding postdoctoral fellowship.


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