Contributors: Liping Zhu, Song-Ju Kim, Masahiko Hara, Masashi Aono
... Supplementary Movie of "Remarkable Problem-Solving Ability of Unicellular Amoeboid Organism and its Mechanism."
Data from: Habitat continuity and stepping-stone oceanographic distances explain population genetic connectivity of the brown alga Cystoseira amentacea
Contributors: Buonomo, Roberto, Assis, Jorge, Fernandes, Francisco, Engelen, Aschwin H., Airoldi, Laura, Serrão, Ester A.
... Effective predictive and management approaches for species occurring in a metapopulation structure require good understanding of inter-population connectivity. In this study we ask whether population genetic structure of marine species with fragmented distributions can be predicted by stepping-stone oceanographic transport and habitat continuity, using as model an ecosystem-structuring brown alga, Cystoseira amentacea var. stricta. To answer this question, we analyzed the genetic structure and estimated the connectivity of populations along discontinuous rocky habitat patches in southern Italy, using microsatellite markers at multiple scales. In addition, we modelled the effect of rocky habitat continuity and ocean circulation on gene flow by simulating Lagrangian particle dispersal based on ocean surface currents allowing multigenerational stepping-stone dynamics. Populations were highly differentiated, at scales from few meters up to 1000s of kilometers. The best possible model fit to explain the genetic results combined current direction, rocky habitat extension and distance along the coast among rocky sites. We conclude that a combination of variables suitable habitat and oceanographic transport is a useful predictor of genetic structure. This relationship provides insight into the mechanisms of dispersal and the role of life history traits. Our results highlight the importance of spatially explicit modeling of stepping stone dynamics and oceanographic directional transport coupled with habitat suitability, to better describe and predict marine population structure and differentiation. This study also suggests the appropriate spatial scales for the conservation, restoration and management of species that are increasingly affected by habitat modifications.
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