Dispersal barriers and stochastic reproductive success do not explain small-scale genetic structure in a broadcast spawning marine mussel

Peter R. Teske, Isabelle Papadopoulos, Nigel P. Barker, Christopher D. McQuaid

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Small-scale genetic heterogeneity in marine broadcast spawners is often attributed either to physical factors that constrain larval dispersal or to stochasticity in reproductive success. In females of the mussel Perna perna, it has been attributed to asymmetrical levels of gene flow between bays and the open coast, with bays acting as sources of propagules. If nearshore currents are an important feature constraining dispersal, then genetic heterogeneity should also be identified in other coastal invertebrates with similar dispersal potential, and the amount of genetic structure in adults and juveniles should be similar, whereas temporal changes in reproductive success should manifest themselves in lower genetic diversity of juveniles. We compared sequence data of female P. perna with that of males, juveniles and 3 sympatric marine invertebrates. Congruent genetic structure was only found in a direct developer, suggesting that the region's oceanography does not have a strong structuring effect on species that, like female P. perna, have a planktonic dispersal phase. Furthermore, lack of genetic structure in male and juvenile P. perna indicates that there are no physical barriers that reduce larval exchange. Stochastic reproductive success is also an unlikely explanation for genetic structure in P. perna because levels of genetic diversity are similar in adults and juveniles. Together with the recent finding that the sex ratio in P. perna is skewed toward males, particularly at exposed coastal sites, these results point to a role for selection in driving genetic structure between bays and coastal habitats by eliminating a large proportion of adult females from the open coast.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-140
Number of pages8
JournalMarine Ecology - Progress Series
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cytochrome c oxidase
  • Gene flow
  • Larval dispersal
  • Marine invertebrate
  • Perna perna
  • Recruitment
  • Rocky intertidal
  • Sex ratio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


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