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

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Cynthia RiginosVimoksalehi Lukoschek


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 to south connections and genetic results matched these expectations: coalescent genetic simulations rejected an alternative scen...Continue Reading

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