Inter-Research > MEPS > Prepress Abstract

MEPS prepress abstract   -  DOI:

Neither larval duration nor dispersal distance predict spatial genetic diversity in planktonic dispersing species

Elizabeth A. Esser, James M. Pringle, James E. Byers*

*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The increase in genetic distance between marine individuals or populations with increasing distance has often been assumed to be influenced by dispersal distance. In turn, dispersal distance has often been assumed to correlate strongly with pelagic larval duration (PLD). We examine the consistency of these assumptions in species with long planktonic durations. Reviewing multiple marine species, Selkoe and Toonen (2011) demonstrated significant fit of a species’ PLD with metrics of genetic distance between sampling sites. However, for long dispersers (PLD > 10 days) whose dispersal is more influenced by ocean currents, the fit of PLD and genetic connectivity metrics was not significant. We test if using realistic ocean currents to determine simulated dispersal distances will produce an improved proxy for larval dispersal that correlates more strongly with genetic connectivity metrics. We estimated the dispersal distance of propagules for locations in the genetic studies of Selkoe and Toonen with a global ocean model (Mercator, 1/12° resolution). The model-derived estimates of dispersal distance did not correlate better than PLD against the genetic diversity metrics Global FST/km and isolation-by-distance (IBD) slope. We explore two explanations: 1) our ocean circulation-based dispersal distance estimates are too simple to produce biologically meaningful improvement over PLD, and 2) IBD slope is not a powerful predictor of variation in dispersal distance between species with long PLD.