A main goal of population geneticists is to study patterns of gene flow to gain a better understanding of the population structure in a given organism. To date most efforts have been focused on studying gene flow at either broad scales to identify barriers to gene flow and isolation by distance or at fine spatial scales in order to gain inferences regarding reproduction and local dispersal. Few studies have measured connectivity at multiple spatial scales and have utilized novel tools to test the influence of both environment and geography on shaping gene flow in an organism. Here a seascape genetics approach was used to gain insight regarding geographic and ecological barriers to gene flow of a common reef sponge, Stylissa carteri in the Red Sea. Furthermore, a small-scale (&lt;1 km) analysis was also conducted to infer reproductive potential in this organism. At the broad scale, we found that sponge connectivity is not structured by geography alone, but rather, genetic isolation in the southern Red Sea correlates strongly with environmental heterogeneity. At the scale of a 50-m transect, spatial autocorrelation analyses and estimates of full-siblings revealed that there is no deviation from random mating. However, at slightly larger scales (100–200 m) encompassing multiple transects at a given site, a greater proportion of full-siblings was found within sites versus among sites in a given location suggesting that mating and/or dispersal are constrained to some extent at this spatial scale. This study adds to the growing body of literature suggesting that environmental and ecological variables play a major role in the genetic structure of marine invertebrate populations.
|Date made available||2015|
|Publisher||Dryad Digital Repository|