Broad-scale Population Genetics of the Host Sea Anemone, Heteractis magnifica

  • Madeleine Emms

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Broad-scale population genetics can reveal population structure across an organism’s entire range, which can enable us to determine the most efficient population-wide management strategy depending on levels of connectivity. Genetic variation and differences in genetic diversity on small-scales have been reported in anemones, but nothing is known about their broad-scale population structure, including that of “host” anemone species, which are increasingly being targeted in the aquarium trade. In this study, microsatellite markers were used as a tool to determine the population structure of a sessile, host anemone species, Heteractis magnifica, across the Indo-Pacific region. In addition, two rDNA markers were used to identify Symbiodinium from the samples, and phylogenetic analyses were used to measure diversity and geographic distribution of Symbiodinium across the region. Significant population structure was identified in H. magnifica across the Indo-Pacific, with at least three genetic breaks, possibly the result of factors such as geographic distance, geographic isolation and environmental variation. Symbiodinium associations were also affected by environmental variation and supported the geographic isolation of some regions. These results suggests that management of H. magnifica must be implemented on a local scale, due to the lack of connectivity between clusters. This study also provides further evidence for the combined effects of geographic distance and environmental distance in explaining genetic variance.
Date of AwardDec 2015
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Sciences and Engineering
SupervisorMichael Berumen (Supervisor)


  • Heteractis Magnifica
  • Host Anemone
  • Connectivity
  • Microsatellites
  • Symbiodinium
  • Indo-Pacific

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