Population structure in a common Caribbean coral-reef fish: Implications for larval dispersal and early life-history traits

J. F H Purcell, R. K. Cowen, C. R. Hughes, D. A. Williams

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

30 Scopus citations


Genetic population structure throughout the Caribbean Basin for one of the most common and widespread reef fish species, the bicolour damselfish Stegastes partitus was examined using microsatellite DNA markers. Spatial autocorrelation analysis showed a significant positive correlation between genetic and geographic distance (isolation by distance) over distances <1000 km, suggesting that populations are connected genetically but probably not demographically, i.e. over shorter time scales. A difference in spatial patterns of populations in the eastern v. the western Caribbean also raises the probability of an important role for meso-scale oceanographic features and landscape complexity within the same species. A comparison of S. partitus population structure and life-history traits with those of two other species of Caribbean reef fish studied earlier showed the findings to be concordant with a common hypothesis that shorter pelagic larval dispersal periods are associated with smaller larval dispersal scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)403-417
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1 2009



  • Coral-reef fish
  • Dispersal
  • Genetic population structure
  • Isolation-by- distance
  • Microsatellites
  • Stegastes partitus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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