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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 381:63-70 (2009)  -  DOI:

Connectivity among fragmented populations of a habitat-forming alga, Phyllospora comosa (Phaeophyceae, Fucales) on an urbanised coast

Melinda A. Coleman1,2,*, Brendan P. Kelaher2,3

1Center for Marine Bioinnovation, University of New South Wales, New South Wales 2052, Australia
2Batemans Marine Park, Department of Environment and Climate Change, Burrawang St., Narooma, New South Wales 2546, Australia
3Department of Environmental Sciences and Institute for Water and Environmental Resource Management, University of Technology Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway, New South Wales 2007, Australia

ABSTRACT: Despite a growing body of knowledge on the ecological consequences of loss and fragmentation of habitat-forming macroalgae, little is known about the genetic implications of such losses. Here, we investigate the genetic consequences of fragmentation caused by the loss of the habitat-forming macroalga Phyllospora comosa from 70 km of urbanised coastline in Sydney, Australia. Contrary to predictions, there appeared to be substantial connectivity among fragmented populations, although spatial autocorrelation analysis revealed that this may be an artifact of allele size homoplasy beyond scales of ~80 km. Genetic differentiation was not related to geographic separation of populations. This may be explained by the nature of prevailing currents (East Australian Current) that promote nonlinear dispersal in ‘leaps’, sourcing propagules from one area and depositing them via eddies that either come ashore or disperse. Populations that were tens of kilometers apart were often genetically different, which was likely due to barriers to dispersal, such as sandy beaches and mouths of estuaries, or rapid fertilization and recruitment of zygotes on small spatial scales. Our research provides a basis for designing a rehabilitation program for populations of Phyllospora comosa, with appropriate consideration of genetic diversity and structure.

KEY WORDS: Microsatellites · Fucoid · Phyllospora comosa · Algae · Dispersal · Connectivity · Decline

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Cite this article as: Coleman MA, Kelaher BP (2009) Connectivity among fragmented populations of a habitat-forming alga, Phyllospora comosa (Phaeophyceae, Fucales) on an urbanised coast. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 381:63-70.

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