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MEPS
Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 474:179-190 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10119

Interannual variability in an atlas of trace element signatures for determining population connectivity

Seth H. Miller1,*, Steven G. Morgan1,2, J. Wilson White3, Peter G. Green4

1Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California Davis, Bodega Bay, California 94923, USA
2Department of Environmental Science and Policy and 4Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA
3Department of Biology and Marine Biology, University of North Carolina Wilmington, Wilmington, North Carolina 28403, USA

ABSTRACT: Natural trace element signatures have increasingly been used to track the dispersal of marine larvae, and these studies require an atlas of potential source populations with distinctive elemental signatures. To determine whether natal site atlases could be used repeatedly and to identify site characteristics that yield the best results, we built atlases in 5 consecutive years using embryos of the porcelain crab Petrolisthes cinctipes that were collected from 15 sites spanning 190 km of the open coast of northern California, USA. We analyzed the elemental composition of the embryos using a discriminant function optimization procedure to determine the suite of elements that resulted in the best reclassification success for individual sites and groups of sites each year. No single element or group of elements succeeded in discriminating the origins of embryos every year, and the reclassification success of the atlas varied at all spatial scales among years. Average reclassification success at the site level ranged annually from 39.5 to 54.3% correct, and combining sites into 2 or 3 areas improved the overall reclassification success to 72.5 to 97.7% correct. Sites with (1) distinctive elemental compositions of rocks, (2) unusual habitats, (3) consistent freshwater input, (4) consistent anthropogenic inputs, or (5) complex local oceanography had the highest reclassification success (up to 86.7% correct), but interannual variation in runoff reduced the temporal stability of the atlas. To improve population connectivity estimates, future trace element studies should consider these 5 key characteristics when selecting sites and anticipate temporal variation in natal site signatures.


KEY WORDS: Larval dispersal · Trace element signatures · Population connectivity · Natal site atlas · Petrolisthes cinctipes


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Cite this article as: Miller SH, Morgan SG, White JW, Green PG (2013) Interannual variability in an atlas of trace element signatures for determining population connectivity. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 474:179-190. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps10119

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