Population genetic, phylogeographic, and systematic relationships are elucidated among the three species comprising the thornyhead rockfish genus Sebastolobus (Teleostei: Scorpaenidae). Genetic variation among sampling sites representing their extensive ranges along the deep continental slopes of the northern Pacific Ocean is compared using sequence data from the left domain of the mtDNA control region. Comparisons are made among the shortspine thornyhead ( S. alascanus ) (from seven locations), the longspine thornyhead ( S. altivelis ) (from five sites), which are sympatric in the northeast, and the broadbanded thornyhead ( S. macrochir ) (a single site) from the northwest. Phylo - genetic trees rooted to Sebastes show that S. macrochir is the sister taxon of S. alascanus and S. altivelis . Intraspecific genetic variability is appreciable, with most individuals having unique haplotypes. Gene flow is substantial among some locations and others diverged significantly. Genetic divergences among sampling sites for S. alascanus indicate an isolation by geographic distance pattern. Genetic divergences for S. altivelis are unrelated to the hypothesis of isolation by geographic distance and appear to be more consistent with the hypothesis of larval retention in currents and gyres. Differences in geographic genetic patterns between the species are attributed to life history differences in their relative mobilities as juveniles and adults.
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