Enhanced colour polymorphisms in island populations of the land snail Euhadra peliomphala

Morito Hayashi, Satoshi Chiba

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20 Citations (Scopus)


Variations in visible genetic polymorphisms are assumed to decrease in populations on small islands because of intense founder effects, genetic drift and inbreeding. However, we have found evidence of a marked enhancement of colour polymorphisms within populations on small oceanic islands that were colonized from the mainland. The source populations on the mainland of the land snail Euhadra peliomphala in four oceanic islands were estimated by phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA sequences. Diversity of shell colour was higher in the island populations than in the source populations on the mainland. In addition, the shell colour morphs differed not only among populations from different islands but also between the island populations and the source populations on the mainland. By contrast, no mtDNA variations were found in any of the island populations, even though the source populations possessed high mtDNA diversity. Thus, components of colour morphs changed in the island populations after their colonization, and colour polymorphisms are enhanced in these islands despite the loss of genetic variation. The above findings suggest that ecological mechanisms such as morphological release owing to a release from competition may overcome the tendency toward reduced genetic variation in islands to enhance the colour polymorphism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-425
Number of pages9
JournalBiological Journal of the Linnean Society
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2004 Mar


  • Colonization
  • Colour polymorphisms
  • Genetic variation
  • Island biogeography
  • Mitochondrial DNA


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