Inter-Research > MEPS > v587 > p81-92  

MEPS 587:81-92 (2018)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12447

Seascape habitat patchiness and hydrodynamics explain genetic structuring of kelp populations

Halley M. S. Durrant1, Neville S. Barrett2, Graham J. Edgar2, Melinda A. Coleman3,4, Christopher P. Burridge1,* 

1School of Biological Sciences, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 55, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
2Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies, University of Tasmania, Private Bag 129, Hobart, Tasmania, 7001, Australia
3Department of Primary Industries, NSW Fisheries, PO Box 4321, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales 2450, Australia
4National Marine Science Centre, Southern Cross University, 2 Bay Drive, Coffs Harbour, New South Wales 2450, Australia
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Macroalgae underpin most temperate inshore ecosystems, but increasing macroalgal loss, fragmentation and range contractions are eroding connectivity among populations. Understanding loss, and predicting the likelihood of recovery, is dependent on knowledge of population connectivity and how it is mediated by variability in local seascapes. Although many studies of marine macroalgal connectivity have focussed on influences of geographic distance on genetic structure, the contribution of intervening habitat is rarely considered. We tested the extent to which geographic separation, intervening suitable habitat (reef versus sand and open water) and local hydrodynamics (inferred from particle dispersal models) explained structuring of genetic variation at microsatellite loci in the habitat forming macroalga Lessonia corrugata. Genetic structuring was best explained by the availability of suitable intervening habitat (rocky reef) rather than by geographic separation, although biologically realistic estimates of dispersal probability also became important at smaller spatial scales. Our results indicate that ecological separation can be more influential than geographic distance on population genetic structuring, and this should be considered during the assessment of connectivity and gene flow in marine species.


KEY WORDS: Lessonia corrugata · Dispersal · Macroalgae · Seascape genetics · Microsatellites


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Cite this article as: Durrant HMS, Barrett NS, Edgar GJ, Coleman MA, Burridge CP (2018) Seascape habitat patchiness and hydrodynamics explain genetic structuring of kelp populations. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 587:81-92. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps12447

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