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Frontiers of Biogeography

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Population genetic and phylogeographic insights into the phyllosomal odyssey


The majority of marine species maintain genetic connectivity through pelagic propagules, with pelagic duration hypothesized to limit dispersal potential. This dissertation investigates the geographic scale of genetic connectivity when pelagic duration is likely not limiting. I analyzed mtDNA sequences and microsatellites to determine patterns of genetic structure across the geographic distributions of three lobster species: Panulirus penicillatus (Red Sea to the East Pacific Ocean), P. interruptus (sub-tropical East Pacific), and P. marginatus (Hawaiian endemic). At the broadest spatial scale, significant genetic discontinuities for P. penicillatus correspond to provincial biogeographic boundaries, including putative species-level disjunction across the East Pacific Barrier. On a smaller scale, novel kinship analyses combined with traditional F-statistics indicate that larval behavior and oceanographic processes result in localized recruitment for P. interruptus. Geographic scales of connectivity differ by location and species, even in Hawai‘i, where P. marginatus and P. penicillatus co-occur. These findings indicate the combined effects of geography, ocean currents, and biology overcome extremely long pelagic periods and result in variable degrees of genetic connectivity.

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