Data from: Effective dispersal of Caribbean reef fish is smaller than current spacing among marine protected areas
Beltran, Diana M.; Schizas, Nikolaos V.; Appeldoorn, Richard S.; Prada, Carlos (2018), Data from: Effective dispersal of Caribbean reef fish is smaller than current spacing among marine protected areas, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.8gg2p
The oceans are deteriorating at a fast pace. Conservation measures, such as Marine Protected Areas, are being implemented to relieve areas from local stressors and allow populations to restore to natural levels. Successful networks of MPAs operate if the space among MPAs is smaller than the dispersal capacity of the species under protection. We studied connectivity patterns across populations in a series of MPAs in the common yellowhead Jawfish, Opistognathus aurifrons. Using the power of genome-wide variation, we estimated that the maximum effective dispersal is 8.3 km. We found that MPAs exchange migrants likely via intermediate unprotected habitats through stepping stone dispersal. At scales >50 km such connectivity is decreased, particularly across the Mona Passage. The MPA network studied would be unable to maintain connectivity of these small benthic fishes if habitat in between them is extirpated. Our study highlights the power of SNPs to derive effective dispersal distance and the ability of SNPs to make inferences from single individuals. Given that overall reef fish diversity is driven by species with life histories similar to that of the yellowhead jawfish, managers face a challenge to develop strategies that allow connectivity and avoid isolation of populations and their possible extinction.