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  1. Although the concept of connectivity is ubiquitous in ecology and evolution, its definition is often inconsistent, particularly in interdisciplinary research. In an ecological context, population connectivity refers to the movement of individuals or species across a landscape. It is measured by locating organisms and tracking their occurrence across space and time. In an evolutionary context, connectivity is typically used to describe levels of current and past gene flow, calculated from the degree of genetic similarity between populations. Both connectivity definitions are useful in their specific contexts, but rarely are these two perspectives combined. Different definitions of connectivity could result in misunderstandings across subdisciplines. Here, we unite ecological and evolutionary perspectives into a single unifying framework by advocating for connectivity to be conceptualized as a generational continuum. Within this framework, connectivity can be subdivided into three timescales: (1) within a generation (e.g., movement), (2) across one parent-offspring generation (e.g., dispersal), and (3) across two or more generations (e.g., gene flow), with each timescale determining the relevant context and dictating whether the connectivity has ecological or evolutionary consequences. Applying our framework to real-world connectivity questions can help to identify sampling limitations associated with a particular methodology, further develop research questions and hypotheses, and investigate eco-evolutionary feedback interactions that span the connectivity continuum. We hope this framework will serve as a foundation for conducting and communicating research across subdisciplines, resulting in a more holistic understanding of connectivity in natural systems. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 24, 2024
  2. Abstract

    The demographic history of a population is important for conservation and evolution, but this history is unknown for many populations. Methods that use genomic data have been developed to infer demography, but they can be challenging to implement and interpret, particularly for large populations. Thus, understanding if and when genetic estimates of demography correspond to true population history is important for assessing the performance of these genetic methods. Here, we used double‐digest restriction‐site associated DNA (ddRAD) sequencing data from archived collections of larval summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus,n = 279) from three cohorts (1994–1995, 1997–1998 and 2008–2009) along the U.S. East coast to examine how contemporary effective population size and genetic diversity responded to changes in abundance in a natural population. Despite little to no detectable change in genetic diversity, coalescent‐based demographic modelling from site frequency spectra revealed that summer flounder effective population size declined dramatically in the early 1980s. The timing and direction of change corresponded well with the observed decline in spawning stock census abundance in the late 1980s from independent fish surveys. Census abundance subsequently recovered and achieved the prebottleneck size. Effective population size also grew following the bottleneck. Our results for summer flounder demonstrate that genetic sampling and site frequency spectra can be useful for detecting population dynamics, even in species with large effective sizes.

     
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  3. Understanding how evolutionary forces interact to drive patterns of selection and distribute genetic variation across a species' range is of great interest in ecology and evolution, especially in an era of global change. While theory predicts how and when populations at range margins are likely to undergo local adaptation, empirical evidence testing these models remains sparse. Here, we address this knowledge gap by investigating the relationship between selection, gene flow and genetic drift in the yellowtail clownfish, Amphiprion clarkii, from the core to the northern periphery of the species range. Analyses reveal low genetic diversity at the range edge, gene flow from the core to the edge and genomic signatures of local adaptation at 56 single nucleotide polymorphisms in 25 candidate genes, most of which are significantly correlated with minimum annual sea surface temperature. Several of these candidate genes play a role in functions that are upregulated during cold stress, including protein turnover, metabolism and translation. Our results illustrate how spatially divergent selection spanning the range core to the periphery can occur despite the potential for strong genetic drift at the range edge and moderate gene flow from the core populations. 
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  4. Abstract

    Dispersal sets the fundamental scales of ecological and evolutionary dynamics and has important implications for population persistence. Patterns of marine dispersal remain poorly understood, partly because dispersal may vary through time and often homogenizes allele frequencies. However, combining multiple types of natural tags can provide more precise dispersal estimates, and biological collections can help to reconstruct dispersal patterns through time. We used single nucleotide polymorphism genotypes and otolith core microchemistry from archived collections of larval summer flounder (Paralichthys dentatus,n = 411) captured between 1989 and 2012 at five locations along the US East coast to reconstruct dispersal patterns through time. Neither genotypes nor otolith microchemistry alone were sufficient to identify the source of larval fish. However, microchemistry identified clusters of larvae (n = 3–33 larvae per cluster) that originated in the same location, and genetic assignment of clusters could be made with substantially more confidence. We found that most larvae probably originated near a biogeographical break (Cape Hatteras) and that larvae were transported in both directions across this break. Larval sources did not shift north through time, despite the northward shift of adult populations in recent decades. Our novel approach demonstrates that summer flounder dispersal is widespread throughout their range, on both intra‐ and intergenerational timescales, and may be a particularly important process for synchronizing population dynamics and maintaining genetic diversity during an era of rapid environmental change. Broadly, our results reveal the value of archived collections and of combining multiple natural tags to understand the magnitude and directionality of dispersal in species with extensive gene flow.

     
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