Spatial scales of genetic patchiness in the western rock lobster Panulirus cygnus
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In planktonic dispersers, impediments to dispersal, local selection or large variance in the reproductive success among individuals (sweepstakes reproductive success) can create genetic heterogeneity at local scales. While these processes are well recognized, relatively few studies have investigated the spatial scales over which genetic heterogeneity occurs and how it is distributed across species’ ranges. We investigate population structure in the western rock lobster Panulirus cygnus, a commercially exploited species found in shallow and deep-water reef habitats along the Western Australia coastline. We screened 631 individuals from 9 locations across the species’ range for genetic variation at 22 microsatellite loci. Consistent with expectations of extensive larval mixing during an extended planktonic stage, we found no significant genetic differentiation among locations (FST = 0.003, G’’ST = 0.007). Despite the lack of large-scale geographic structure, small but significant positive spatial autocorrelation (SA) was detected over distances up to 40 km. Two-dimensional local SA analysis confirmed that fine-scale genetic heterogeneity was common throughout the species’ range. An intriguing aspect of these results is that SA was based on juvenile and adult lobsters, suggesting restricted movement or spatial cohesion of individuals after settlement.
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