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Not All Larvae Stay Close To Home: Insights Into Marine Population Connectivity With A Focus On The Brown Surgeonfish (Acanthurus Nigrofuscus)

Jeff A. Eble, Luiz A. Rocha, Matthew T. Craig, Brian W. Bowen

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Recent reports of localized larval recruitment in predominately small-range fishes are countered by studies that show high genetic connectivity across large oceanic distances. This discrepancy may result from the different timescales over which genetic and demographic processes operate or rather may indicate regular long-distance dispersal in some species. Here, we contribute an analysis of mtDNA cytochromebdiversity in the widely distributed Brown Surgeonfish (Acanthurus nigrofuscus;N=560), which revealed significant genetic structure only at the extremes of the range (ΦCT=0.452;P<.001). Collections from Hawaii to the Eastern Indian Ocean comprise one large, undifferentiated population. This pattern of limited genetic subdivision across reefs of the central Indo-Pacific has been observed in a number of large-range reef fishes. Conversely, small-range fishes are often deeply structured over the same area. These findings demonstrate population connectivity differences among species at biogeographic and evolutionary timescales, which likely translates into differences in dispersal ability at ecological and demographic timescales. While interspecific differences in population connectivity complicate the design of management strategies, the integration of multiscale connectivity patterns into marine resource planning will help ensure long-term ecosystem stability by preserving functionally diverse communities.