Congruent patterns of connectivity can inform management for broadcast spawning corals on the Great Barrier Reef

Lukoschek, Vimoksalehi, Riginos, Cynthia, and van Oppen, Madeleine J.H. (2016) Congruent patterns of connectivity can inform management for broadcast spawning corals on the Great Barrier Reef. Molecular Ecology, 25 (13). pp. 3065-3080.

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Connectivity underpins the persistence and recovery of marine ecosystems. The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is the world's largest coral reef ecosystem and managed by an extensive network of no-take zones; however, information about connectivity was not available to optimize the network's configuration. We use multivariate analyses, Bayesian clustering algorithms and assignment tests of the largest population genetic data set for any organism on the GBR to date (Acropora tenuis, >2500 colonies; >50 reefs, genotyped for ten microsatellite loci) to demonstrate highly congruent patterns of connectivity between this common broadcast spawning reef-building coral and its congener Acropora millepora (~950 colonies; 20 reefs, genotyped for 12 microsatellite loci). For both species, there is a genetic divide at around 19°S latitude, most probably reflecting allopatric differentiation during the Pleistocene. GBR reefs north of 19°S are essentially panmictic whereas southern reefs are genetically distinct with higher levels of genetic diversity and population structure, most notably genetic subdivision between inshore and offshore reefs south of 19°S. These broadly congruent patterns of higher genetic diversities found on southern GBR reefs most likely represent the accumulation of alleles via the southward flowing East Australia Current. In addition, signatures of genetic admixture between the Coral Sea and outer-shelf reefs in the northern, central and southern GBR provide evidence of recent gene flow. Our connectivity results are consistent with predictions from recently published larval dispersal models for broadcast spawning corals on the GBR, thereby providing robust connectivity information about the dominant reef-building genus Acropora for coral reef managers.

Item ID: 45452
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1365-294X
Keywords: Acropora millepora, Acropora tenuis, coral reef management, microsatellites, population genetics - empirical, seascape genetics
Funders: Queensland Government Smart Futures Fellowship, Australian Research Council (ARC)
Projects and Grants: ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award
Research Data:
Date Deposited: 03 Aug 2016 07:31
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310599 Genetics not elsewhere classified @ 80%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410401 Conservation and biodiversity @ 10%
41 ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES > 4104 Environmental management > 410404 Environmental management @ 10%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9608 Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity > 960808 Marine Flora, Fauna and Biodiversity @ 80%
96 ENVIRONMENT > 9605 Ecosystem Assessment and Management > 960507 Ecosystem Assessment and Management of Marine Environments @ 20%
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