Reconstruction of larval origins based on genetic relatedness and biophysical modeling
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Reconstruction of larval origins based on genetic relatedness and biophysical modeling

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  • Journal Title:
    Scientific Reports
  • Description:
    The assessment of the mechanisms and patterns of larval connectivity between geographically separated populations leads to a better understanding of benthic marine population dynamics, especially in commercially valuable species. This study investigated for the first time the fine-scale temporal genetic variability of new settlers and their origins in a benthic marine organism with one of the longest pelagic larval phases, the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus). We genotyped newly settled postlarvae in the Florida Keys and adults of spiny lobster from the Florida Keys and throughout the Caribbean Sea. We identified strong larval connectivity between Dominican Republic, Belize, Nicaragua, the Florida Keys, and West-Florida. The larval dispersal modeling suggests that Florida's lobster population could receive recruits from within and from other areas outside its state and national maritime boundaries. The genetic analyses refine the oceanographic model indicating that the connectivity patterns described could also result from unknown parental populations sourcing adults and postlarvae in different spawning seasons to the Florida Keys. We discuss the importance of small temporal scales to identify patterns in larval export. Our findings are significant on two levels. From the larval dispersal perspective, genetic results and biophysical modeling identify patterns of gene flow enhancing persistence of local populations. From an economic and fishery perspective, P. argus is the most important commercial species in the Caribbean and our results inform how considering larval source and sink dynamics across international boundaries could improve management plans at local, national, and regional levels.
  • Source:
    Scientific Reports 9 (7100) 
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    CC BY
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