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MEPS 463:159-175 (2012)  -  DOI:

Linking bio-oceanography and population genetics to assess larval connectivity

G. Soria1,2,*, A. Munguía-Vega1,3, S. G. Marinone4, M. Moreno-Báez1, I. Martínez-Tovar5, R. Cudney-Bueno1,6

1School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona 85721, USA
2Centro Nacional Patagónico, Boulevard Brown 2915, U9120ACD, Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina
3Comunidad y Biodiversidad A. C., Colonia Centro, La Paz, Baja California Sur, Mexico
4Departamento de Oceanografía Física, Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada, Ensenada, Baja California, Mexico
5Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Océanos (CEDO), Puerto Peñasco, Sonora 83550, Mexico
6Institute of Marine Sciences, University of California Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA

ABSTRACT: Marine reserves (areas closed to fishing) have been advocated for the management of many species, including the rock scallop Spondylus calcifer in the northern Gulf of California (NGC), Mexico. We developed an explicit coupled biological-oceanographic model (CBOM) to assess connectivity among fished subpopulations of S. calcifer. We focused on the Puerto Peñasco corridor, located in the northeastern portion of the NGC. We validated CBOM’s outputs through 2 different techniques: population genetics with 9 microsatellite loci and measurements of spat abundance on artificial collectors. We found strong demographic connectivity between the corridor and southern sources. Sampled localities showed low levels of genetic structure; however, we identified 2 subtly differentiated genetic clusters. On average, the spatial scale of demographic and genetic connectivity is in agreement, suggesting that connectivity decreases when the spatial scale is >100 km. We observed a gradient of higher values of both predicted particles and observed densities of settled spat for the northern and southern sites and lower values for the central sites. Larval recruitment within the corridor could be linked to a large spatial scale of larval inputs, including local sources and subpopulations further south. The absence of a strong barrier to migration suggests that the siting of marine reserves along upstream sites would likely benefit downstream subpopulations. The spatial scale of connectivity (~100 km) could be used as a reference for the strategic siting of marine reserves in the study area. CBOMs and population genetics are powerful complementary tools to assess the relative strength of connectivity among sites.

KEY WORDS: Spondylus calcifer · Larval dispersal · Genetic structure · Marine reserves · Gulf of California

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Cite this article as: Soria G, Munguía-Vega A, Marinone SG, Moreno-Báez M, Martínez-Tovar I, Cudney-Bueno R (2012) Linking bio-oceanography and population genetics to assess larval connectivity. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 463:159-175.

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