Historic and contemporary biogeographic perspectives on range-wide spatial genetic structure in a widespread seagrass

Elizabeth Sinclair, Renae Hovey, Siegfried Krauss, Janet Anthony, Michelle Waycott, Gary Kendrick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Historical and contemporary processes drive spatial patterns of genetic diversity. These include climate-driven range shifts and gene flow mediated by biogeographical influences on dispersal. Assessments that integrate these drivers are uncommon, but critical for testing biogeographic hypotheses. Here, we characterize intraspecific genetic diversity and spatial structure across the entire distribution of a temperate seagrass to test marine biogeographic concepts for southern Australia. Predictive modeling was used to contrast the current Posidonia australis distribution to its historical distribution during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). Spatial genetic structure was estimated for 44 sampled meadows from across the geographical range of the species using nine microsatellite loci. Historical and contemporary distributions were similar, with the exception of the Bass Strait. Genetic clustering was consistent with the three currently recognized biogeographic provinces and largely consistent with the finer-scale IMCRA bioregions. Discrepancies were found within the Flindersian province and southwest IMCRA bioregion, while two regions of admixture coincided with transitional IMCRA bioregions. Clonal diversity was highly variable but positively associated with latitude. Genetic differentiation among meadows was significantly associated with oceanographic distance. Our approach suggests how shared seascape drivers have influenced the capacity of P. australis to effectively track sea level changes associated with natural climate cycles over millennia, and in particular, the recolonization of meadows across the Continental Shelf following the LGM. Genetic structure associated with IMCRA bioregions reflects the presence of stable biogeographic barriers, such as oceanic upwellings. This study highlights the importance of biogeography to infer the role of historical drivers in shaping extant diversity and structure.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere9900
JournalEcology and Evolution
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2023


Dive into the research topics of 'Historic and contemporary biogeographic perspectives on range-wide spatial genetic structure in a widespread seagrass'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this