Skip to main content

Extremely stochastic connectivity of island mangroves


Thomas, Maki; Nakajima, Yuichi; Mitarai, Satoshi (2023), Extremely stochastic connectivity of island mangroves, Dryad, Dataset,


Studies of mangrove population connectivity have focused primarily on global to regional scales and have suggested potential for long-distance connectivity, with archipelagos serving as stepping stones for trans-oceanic dispersal. However, the contribution of propagule dispersal to connectivity is still largely unknown, especially at local-scale. Identifying fine-scale propagule dispersal patterns unique to individual island systems is important to understand their contribution to global species distributions, and to select appropriate sizes and locations for mangrove conservation in archipelagos. Using population genetic methods and a release-recapture method employing GPS drifting buoys, we investigated the spatiotemporal scale of propagule dispersal of Rhizophora stylosa, one of the widely distributed mangrove species in the Indo-West Pacific. This study sought to quantify intra- and inter-island connectivity and to assess their contributions to oceanic scale dispersal of R. stylosa from the Ryukyu Archipelago, which spans over 545 km in southwestern Japan. Using 7 microsatellite markers, we tested 354 samples collected from 16 fringing populations on 4 islands. We identified 3 genetic populations, indicating distinct genetic structures comprising 3 distinguishable bioregions (genetic clusters). The western end of the archipelago receives relatively frequent migration (m > 0.1), but is genetically isolated from other sites. Based on genetic migration rates, we found that the central area of the archipelago serves as a stepping stone for southwestward, but not northeastward dispersal. On the other hand, with in-situ drifting buoys, we did not confirm prevailing dispersal directionality within the archipelago, instead confirming local eddies. Some buoys trapped in those eddies demonstrated potential for successful beaching from another island. A large portion of buoys were carried predominantly northeastward by the Kuroshio Current and drifted away from the coastal areas into the Pacific, contrary to local migrations. We found that the spatiotemporal scale of propagule dispersal is limited by the distance between islands (< 200km), propagule viability duration, and fecundity. Over all, recruitment does not occur frequently enough to unify the genetic structure in the archipelago, and the Ryukyu Archipelago is isolated in the center of the global mangrove distribution.


Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University