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Data from: Ocean circulation model predicts high genetic structure in a long-lived pelagic developer


Sunday, Jennifer M. et al. (2014), Data from: Ocean circulation model predicts high genetic structure in a long-lived pelagic developer, Dryad, Dataset,


Understanding the movement of genes and individuals across marine seascapes is a long-standing challenge in marine ecology, and can inform our understanding of local adaptation, the persistence and movement of populations, and the spatial scale of effective management. Patterns of gene flow in the ocean are often inferred based on population genetic analyses coupled with knowledge of species’ dispersive life histories. However, genetic structure is the result of time-integrated processes, and may not capture present-day connectivity between populations. Here we use a high-resolution oceanographic circulation model to predict larval dispersal along the complex coastline of western Canada that includes the transition between two well-studied zoogeographic provinces. We simulate dispersal in a benthic sea star with a 6-10 week pelagic larval phase, and test predictions of this model against previously observed genetic structure including a strong phylogeographic break within the zoogeographical transition zone. We also test predictions with new genetic sampling in a site within the phylogeographic break. We find that the coupled genetic and circulation model predicts the high degree of genetic structure observed in this species, despite its long pelagic duration. High genetic structure on this complex coastline can thus be explained through ocean circulation patterns which tend to retain passive larvae within 20 - 50 km of their parents, suggesting a necessity for close-knit design of Marine Protected Area networks.

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SE Alaska
British Columbia