Population connectivity of deep-sea corals

NOAA Technical Memorandum X-12
By: , and 



Identifying the scale of dispersal among habitats has been a challenge in marine ecology for decades (Grantham et al., 2003; Kinlan & Gaines, 2003; Hixon, 2011). Unlike terrestrial habitats in which barriers to dispersal may be obvious (e.g. mountain ranges, rivers), few absolute barriers to dispersal are recognizable in the sea. Additionally, most marine species have complex life cycles in which juveniles are more mobile than adults. As such, the dynamics of populations may involve processes in distant habitats that are coupled by a transport mechanism. Studies of population connectivity try to quantify the transport, or dispersal of individuals, among geographically separated populations. For benthic marine species, such as corals and demersal fishes, colonization of new populations occurs primarily by dispersal of larvae (Figure 1; Shank, 2010). Successful dispersal and recruitment, followed by maturation and reproduction of these new migrants ensures individuals contribute to the gene pool (Hedgecock, 2007). Thus, successful dispersal links and cohesively maintains spatially separated sub-populations. At shorter time scales (10-100s years), connectivity regulates community structure by influencing the genetic composition, diversity and demographic stability of the population, whereas at longer time scales (1000s years), geographic distributions are affected (McClain and Hardy, 2010). Alternatively, populations may become extinct or speciation may occur if connectivity ceases (Cowen et al., 2007). Therefore, the genetic exchange of individuals between populations is fundamental to the short-term resilience and long-term maintenance of the species. However, for the vast majority of marine species, population connectivity remains poorly understood.

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Population connectivity of deep-sea corals
Series title NOAA Technical Memorandum
Series number X
Chapter 12
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher NOAA
Publisher location Silver Spring, MD
Contributing office(s) Leetown Science Center
Description 30 p.
Larger Work Type Report
Larger Work Subtype Federal Government Series
Larger Work Title The state of deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems of the United States: 2015
First page 12-1
Last page 12-30
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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