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Genome scans have identified candidate regions of the genome undergoing selection in a wide variety of organisms, yet have rarely been applied to broadly dispersing marine organisms experiencing divergent selection pressures, where high recombination rates can reduce the extent of linkage disequilibrium (LD) and the ability to detect genomic regions under selection. The broadly dispersing periwinkle Echinolittorina hawaiiensis exhibits a heritable shell sculpture polymorphism that is correlated with environmental variation. To elucidate the genetic basis of phenotypic variation, a genome scan using over 1000 AFLP loci was conducted on smooth and sculptured snails from divergent habitats at four replicate sites. Approximately 5% of loci were identified as outliers with Dfdist, whereas no outliers were identified by BayeScan. Closer examination of the Dfdist outliers supported the conclusion that these loci were false positives. These results highlight the importance of controlling for Type I error using multiple outlier detection approaches, multitest corrections and replicate population comparisons. Assuming shell phenotypes have a genetic basis, our failure to detect outliers suggests that the life history of the target species needs to be considered when designing a genome scan. © 2011 The Authors. Journal of Evolutionary Biology © 2011 European Society For Evolutionary Biology.