Our ESR Justine Vandendorpe has published new PRIDE research results (2019)

This new open-access PRIDE research can be found in the journal Ecology and Evolution:

Historical faunal exchange between the Pontocaspian Basin and North America
by Justine Vandendorpe, Christiaan G. C. van Baak, Björn Stelbrink, Diana Delicado, Christian Albrecht and Thomas Wilke
Ecology and Evolution (2019)


Ecrobia is a genus of small brackish‐water mud snails with an amphi‐Atlantic distribution. Interestingly, the species occurring in the northwestern Atlantic, Ecrobia truncata, is more closely related to the Pontocaspian taxa, Ecrobia grimmi and Ecrobia maritima, than to the species occurring in the northeastern Atlantic and Mediterranean Sea. At least three colonization scenarios may account for this peculiar biogeographical pattern: (1) a recent human‐mediated dispersal, (2) a historical transatlantic interchange, and (3) a historical transpolar interchange. To test these three scenarios, we used five operational criteria—time of species divergence, first appearance in the fossil record, dispersal limitation as well as environmental filtering and biotic interactions along the potential migration routes. Specifically, we inferred a time‐calibrated molecular phylogeny for Ecrobia and reconstructed a paleogeographical map of the Arctic Ocean at 2.5 million years ago (Mya). Based on the five operational criteria, scenarios 1 and 2 can likely be rejected. In contrast, all criteria support scenario 3 (historical transpolar interchange). It is therefore suggested that a bird‐mediated and/or ocean current‐mediated faunal interchange via the Arctic Ocean occurred during the Late Pliocene or Early Pleistocene. This dispersal was likely facilitated by reduced distances between the Eurasian and North American/Greenland landmasses, marine introgressions, and/or a stepping‐stone system of brackish‐water habitats in northern Siberia, as well as a lack of competition along the migration route. As for the direction of dispersal, the scientific data presented are not conclusive. However, there is clearly more support for the scenario of dispersal from the Pontocaspian Basin to North America than vice versa. This is the first study providing evidence for a natural faunal exchange between the Pontocaspian Basin and North America via the Arctic Ocean.

The open-access article can be found here