The swimming capacities of pelagic larvae affect gene flow and range size in demersal marine fishes. Photos: Frank Baensch

Nanninga GB, Manica A


Larval swimming capacities affect genetic differentiation and range size in demersal marine fishes

The biophysical dispersal of pelagic larvae among local adult populations has pervasive ecological and evolutionary consequences for demersal marine organisms. While it has long been known that larval behaviour plays an important role in the dispersal process, empirical evidence for this effect remains sparse. Nanninga and Manica tested the potential influence of larval fish swimming capacities (critical swimming speed, U-crit) on emergent species-level properties related to dispersal potential. A meta-analysis showed that larval swimming speed indeed had strong relationships with population genetic differentiation and global range size. Out of a range of exploratory variables, U-crit was consistently the most important predictor in multi-model inference. Larval swimming capacity could hence serve as a powerful indicator of a species' long-distance dispersal potential.


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