Oceanography promotes self-recruitment in a planktonic larval disperser
Teske, Peter R
van Sebille, E
Beheregaray, Luciano Bellagamba
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The application of high-resolution genetic data has revealed that oceanographic connectivity in marine species with planktonic larvae can be surprisingly limited, even in the absence of major barriers to dispersal. Australia’s southern coast represents a particularly interesting system for studying planktonic larval dispersal, as the hydrodynamic regime of the wide continental shelf has potential to facilitate onshore retention of larvae. We used a seascape genetics approach (the joint analysis of genetic data and oceanographic connectivity simulations) to assess population genetic structure and self-recruitment in a broadcast-spawning marine gastropod that exists as a single meta-population throughout its temperate Australian range. Levels of self-recruitment were surprisingly high, and oceanographic connectivity simulations indicated that this was a result of low-velocity nearshore currents promoting the retention of planktonic larvae in the vicinity of natal sites. Even though the model applied here is comparatively simple and assumes that the dispersal of planktonic larvae is passive, we find that oceanography alone is sufficient to explain the high levels of genetic structure and self-recruitment. Our study contributes to growing evidence that sophisticated larval behaviour is not a prerequisite for larval retention in the nearshore region in planktonic-developing species.