Genetic signatures of Bassian glacial refugia and contemporary connectivity in a marine foundation species

Elizabeth A. Sinclair, Janet M. Anthony, Dougal Greer, Leonardo Ruiz-Montoya, Suzanna M. Evans, Siegfried L. Krauss, Gary A. Kendrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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Aim: To examine the population genetic structure in Posidonia australis meadows, a marine foundation species capable of long distance dispersal (LDD), and the role of historical versus contemporary processes in shaping post Last Glacial Maximum (LGM) re-colonization. Location: Southeastern Australia including the Bass Strait Islands. Methods: We generated multilocus genotypes and assessed spatial patterns of genetic diversity. Relationships among meadows were assessed in terms of historical sea level changes, oceanic boundary currents and contemporary seed dispersal based on a hydrodynamic model. Results: There was strong regional spatial genetic structuring among P. australis meadows in south-eastern Australia, which was congruent with three recognized marine biogeographical provinces [Peronian (eastern), Flindersian (western and southern), and Maugean (south-eastern)]. The genetic data suggest Maugean meadows persisted in isolation during the LGM, with evidence for admixture and contemporary gene flow. Simulated dispersal events identified high rates of local and regional demographic connectivity, with evidence for occasional LDD events. Main conclusions: The strong regional differentiation is consistent with long-term barriers to dispersal persisting in the marine environment through many sea level fluctuations. Bass Strait Island meadows all have strong signals of genetic admixture. A weak but significant isolation by distance relationship is consistent with a historical signal and contemporary seed dispersal mostly within the Bass Strait.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2209-2222
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Biogeography
Issue number11
Early online date4 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016


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