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Title: Population connectivity across east Australia's bioregions and larval duration of the range‐extending sea star Meridiastra calcar

The diversity and distribution of marine species in eastern Australia is influenced by one of the world's strongest western boundary currents, the East Australia Current, which propels water and propagules poleward, a flow intensifying due to climate change.

Population genetic structure of the asterinid sea starMeridiastra calcarwas investigated across its range in eastern Australia (12° of latitude, 2,500 km) from northern New South Wales to its poleward‐extending range in Tasmania at the southern edge influence of the East Australia Current.

Population structure and connectivity ofM. calcarwere examined across six bioregions using six microsatellite loci (nuclear DNA) and the control region (mitochondrial DNA). The potential influence of the extent ofM. calcar's intertidal rock platform habitat was also assessed.

Genetic structure analysis indicated that the Hawkesbury Shelf contained distinct genetic clusters, whereas the two sites in the Batemans Shelf differed from each other, with Jervis Bay Marine Park having just one genetic cluster. The Manning Shelf, Twofold Shelf, and Bruny bioregions all had similar genetic composition.

Strong self‐seeding (68–98%) was indicated by microsatellite loci for all bioregions, with lower (0.3–6.5%) migration between bioregions. Poleward (New South Wales to Tasmania) migration was low except from the Manning Shelf (30%).

Contemporary population connectivity and genetic structure ofM. calcarappear to be influenced by ocean currents, habitat distribution, and its short planktonic larval duration, which was a minimum of 12–14 days, depending on availability of a settlement cue.

The dominance of unique genetic groups in the Hawkesbury bioregion shows the importance of this region forM. calcarand possibly a diversity of co‐distributed rock platform species. This highlights how important it is to have a large marine park in the Hawkesbury bioregion, which is presently lacking.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
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Publisher / Repository:
Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Date Published:
Journal Name:
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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