Chaotic genetic patchiness and high relatedness of a poecilogonous polychaete in a heterogeneous estuarine landscape

Benni Winding Hansen, Gary Thomas Banta, Jenni E Kesäniemi, K Emily Knott

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The genetic structure of benthic marine invertebrates is often described as “chaotic” when genetic structure cannot be explained and barriers to dispersal and gene flow cannot be identified. Here, chaotic patterns of genetic structure for the polychaete Pygospio elegans (Claparède) sampled at 16 locations from the heterogeneous Isefjord–Roskilde Fjord estuary complex in Denmark were found. There was no isolation by distance, and the geography of the estuary complex did not seem to pose a barrier to dispersal and gene flow in this species. We investigated whether characteristics of the environment could be related to the genetic structure and possibly restrict gene flow in this species. Additionally, since P. elegans is poecilogonous, producing larvae with different pelagic developmental periods, we investigated whether observed developmental modes in the samples might clarify the genetic patterns. None of the tested factors explained the population genetic structure. However, a high degree of relatedness among individuals in almost all samples was found. Samples with a larger percentage of young individuals had more related individuals, suggesting that different cohorts could be comprised of individuals with different degrees of relatedness. Relatedness within a site could be increased by limited larval dispersal, collective dispersal of related larvae, sweepstakes reproductive success, or asexual reproduction, but distinguishing between these requires further study. Using a “seascape genetics” approach allowed us to investigate some of the numerous potential factors that could influence population genetic structure in a poecilogonous species
TidsskriftMarine Biology
Udgave nummer11
Sider (fra-til)2631-2644
StatusUdgivet - 2014

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