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Contemporary and historical oceanographic processes explain genetic connectivity in a Southwestern Atlantic coral
Peluso, L.; Tascheri, V.; Nunes, F.L.D.; Castro, C.B.; Pires, D.O.; Zilberberg, C. (2018). Contemporary and historical oceanographic processes explain genetic connectivity in a Southwestern Atlantic coral. NPG Scientific Reports 8(1): 12 pp.
In: Scientific Reports (Nature Publishing Group). Nature Publishing Group: London. ISSN 2045-2322; e-ISSN 2045-2322, more
Peer reviewed article  

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  • Peluso, L.
  • Tascheri, V.
  • Nunes, F.L.D.
  • Castro, C.B.
  • Pires, D.O.
  • Zilberberg, C.

    Understanding connectivity patterns has implications for evolutionary and ecological processes, as well as for proper conservation strategies. This study examined population genetic structure and migration patterns of the coral Mussismilia hispida, one of the main reef builders in the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean. For this, 15 sites were sampled along its entire distributional range employing 10 microsatellite loci. M. hispida was divided into five genetically differentiated populations by Structure analysis. Population structure and migration estimates are consistent with present-day oceanographic current patterns, zones of upwelling and historical sea-level changes. The Central Region and Oceanic Islands populations had the highest genetic diversity, were possibly the main sources of migrants for other populations and presented mutual migrant exchange. This mutual exchange and the high diversity of Oceanic Islands, a peripherical population, is highly interesting and unexpected, but can be explained if these sites acted as refugia in past low sea-level stance. This is the first connectivity study in the region using hyper-variable markers and a fine sampling scale along 3,500 km. These results enlighten the population dynamics of an important reef building species and shows how oceanographic processes may act as barriers to dispersal for marine species, providing valuable information for management strategies.

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