Population genetics and hydrodynamic modeling of larval dispersal dissociate contemporary patterns of connectivity from historical expansion into European shelf seas in the polychaete Pectinaria koreni

Jolly, M. T., P. Guyard, C. Ellien, F. Gentil, F. Viard, E. ThiƩbaut, D. Jollivet

Limnol. Oceanogr., 54(6), 2009, 2089-2106 | DOI: 10.4319/lo.2009.54.6.2089

ABSTRACT: Using Pectinaria koreni as a biological model of larval dispersal, we coupled the analysis of differently evolving genetic markers (mitochondrial cytochrome oxidase I and four microsatellite loci) to hydrodynamic modeling of larval transport in the English Channel. To determine the influence of historical and contemporary processes on the genetic structure of our study populations, genetic relationships between English Channel, Irish Sea, and southern North Sea populations were assessed in relation to the long-term pattern of marine currents and to postglacial colonization pathways. Although significant, low level of overall nuclear genetic differentiation was best explained by the recent origin of populations within the study area and the retention of ancestral polymorphism. Both genetic data sets suggest that two ancestral gene pools contributed to the origin of our study populations, and secondary contacts occurred in the English Channel and southern North Sea as a result of two migration routes around the British Isles. Although Irish Sea and Belgium populations appeared more recently connected, populations of the eastern English Channel were more isolated. English Channel patterns of connectivity indicated high dispersal and gene flow along the French coast, from Normandy to the southern North Sea. Despite significant genetic differentiation between both coasts, migration model selection favored cross-channel gene flow and long-distance migration following the coastlines. Our results highlight the influence of postglacial colonization on genetic patterns in the English Channel, and indicate that contemporary mesoscale connectivity inferred by hydrodynamic modeling cannot, alone, explain the present genetic structure of populations in this area.

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