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Highly restricted dispersal in habitat-forming seaweed may impede natural recovery of disturbed populations

Abstract : Abstract Cystoseira sensu lato (Class Phaeophyceae, Order Fucales, Family Sargassaceae) forests play a central role in marine Mediterranean ecosystems. Over the last decades, Cystoseira s.l. suffered from a severe loss as a result of multiple anthropogenic stressors. In particular, Gongolaria barbata has faced multiple human-induced threats, and, despite its ecological importance in structuring rocky communities and hosting a large number of species, the natural recovery of G. barbata depleted populations is uncertain. Here, we used nine microsatellite loci specifically developed for G. barbata to assess the genetic diversity of this species and its genetic connectivity among fifteen sites located in the Ionian, the Adriatic and the Black Seas. In line with strong and significant heterozygosity deficiencies across loci, likely explained by Wahlund effect, high genetic structure was observed among the three seas (ENA corrected F ST = 0.355, IC = [0.283, 0.440]), with an estimated dispersal distance per generation smaller than 600 m, both in the Adriatic and Black Sea. This strong genetic structure likely results from restricted gene flow driven by geographic distances and limited dispersal abilities, along with genetic drift within isolated populations. The presence of genetically disconnected populations at small spatial scales (< 10 km) has important implications for the identification of relevant conservation and management measures for G. barbata : each population should be considered as separated evolutionary units with dedicated conservation efforts.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03324789
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Submitted on : Friday, August 27, 2021 - 7:54:23 AM
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Florentine Riquet, Christiane-Arnilda de Kuyper, Cécile Fauvelot, Laura Airoldi, Serge Planes, et al.. Highly restricted dispersal in habitat-forming seaweed may impede natural recovery of disturbed populations. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2021, 11 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-021-96027-x⟩. ⟨hal-03324789⟩

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