Asymmetric dispersal is a critical element of concordance between biophysical dispersal models and spatial genetic structure in Great Barrier Reef corals

Riginos, Cynthia, Hock, Karlo, Matias, Ambrocio M., Mumby, Peter J., van Oppen, Madeleine J.H., and Lukoschek, Vimoksalehi (2019) Asymmetric dispersal is a critical element of concordance between biophysical dispersal models and spatial genetic structure in Great Barrier Reef corals. Diversity and Distributions, 25 (11). pp. 1684-1696.

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Aim: Widespread coral bleaching, crown-of-thorns seastar outbreaks, and tropical storms all threaten foundational coral species of the Great Barrier Reef, with impacts differing over time and space. Yet, dispersal via larval propagules could aid reef recovery by supplying new settlers and enabling the spread of adaptive variation among regions. Documenting and predicting spatial connections arising from planktonic larval dispersal in marine species, however, remains a formidable challenge.

Location: The Great Barrier Reef, Australia.

Methods: Contemporary biophysical larval dispersal models were used to predict long-distance multigenerational connections for two common and foundational coral species (Acropora tenuis and Acropora millepora). Spatially extensive genetic surveys allowed us to infer signatures of asymmetric dispersal for these species and evaluate concordance against expectations from biophysical models using coalescent genetic simulations, directions of inferred gene flow, and spatial eigenvector modelling.

Results: At long distances, biophysical models predicted a preponderance of north-south connections and genetic results matched these expectations: coalescent genetic simulations rejected an alternative scenario of historical isolation; the strongest signals of inferred gene flow were from north-south; and asymmetric eigenvectors derived from north-south connections in the biophysical models were significantly better predictors of spatial genetic patterns than eigenvectors derived from symmetric null spatial models.

Main conclusions: Results are consistent with biophysical dispersal models yielding approximate summaries of past multigenerational gene flow conditioned upon directionality of connections. For A. tenuis and A. millepora, northern and central reefs have been important sources to downstream southern reefs over the recent evolutionary past and should continue to provide southward gene flow. Endemic genetic diversity of southern reefs suggests substantial local recruitment and lack of long-distance gene flow from south to north.

Item ID: 60112
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1472-4642
Keywords: approximate Bayesian computation, asymmetric eigenvector modelling, connectivity, gene flow, marine landscape, Moran eigenvector modelling, oceanography, planktonic dispersal, seascape genetics
Copyright Information: © 2019 The Authors.
Funders: Great Barrier Reef Foundation
Date Deposited: 21 Aug 2019 07:43
FoR Codes: 31 BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES > 3105 Genetics > 310508 Genome structure and regulation @ 100%
SEO Codes: 96 ENVIRONMENT > 9603 Climate and Climate Change > 960307 Effects of Climate Change and Variability on Australia (excl. Social Impacts) @ 100%
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