Seascape Genetics: A Coupled Oceanographic-Genetic Model Predicts Population Structure of Caribbean Corals

Heather M. Galindo, Donald B. Olson, Stephen R. Palumbi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

216 Scopus citations


Population genetics is a powerful tool for measuring important larval connections between marine populations [1-4]. Similarly, oceanographic models based on environmental data can simulate particle movements in ocean currents and make quantitative estimates of larval connections between populations possible [5-9]. However, these two powerful approaches have remained disconnected because no general models currently provide a means of directly comparing dispersal predictions with empirical genetic data (except, see [10]). In addition, previous genetic models have considered relatively simple dispersal scenarios that are often unrealistic for marine larvae [11-15], and recent landscape genetic models have yet to be applied in a marine context [16-20]. We have developed a genetic model that uses connectivity estimates from oceanographic models to predict genetic patterns resulting from larval dispersal in a Caribbean coral. We then compare the predictions to empirical data for threatened staghorn corals. Our coupled oceanographic-genetic model predicts many of the patterns observed in this and other empirical datasets; such patterns include the isolation of the Bahamas and an east-west divergence near Puerto Rico [3, 21-23]. This new approach provides both a valuable tool for predicting genetic structure in marine populations and a means of explicitly testing these predictions with empirical data (Figure 1).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1622-1626
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 22 2006



ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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