, Volume 138, Issue 3, pp 457-465

Gene flow at three spatial scales in a coral reef fish, the three-spot dascyllus, Dascyllus trimaculatus

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Dispersal in coral reef fishes occurs predominantly during the larval planktonic stage of their life cycle. With relatively brief larval stages, damselfishes (Pomacentridae) are likely to exhibit limited dispersal. This study evaluates gene flow at three spatial scales in one species of coral reef damselfish, Dascyllus trimaculatus. Samples were collected at seven locations at Moorea, Society Islands, French Polynesia. Phylogenetic relationships and gene flow based on mitochondrial control region DNA sequences between these locations were evaluated (first spatial scale). Although spatial structure was not found, molecular markers showed clear temporal structure, which may be because pulses of settling larvae have distinct genetic composition. Moorea samples were then compared with individuals from a distant island (750 km), Rangiroa, Tuamotu Archipelago, French Polynesia (second spatial scale). Post-recruitment events (selection) and gene flow were probably responsible for the lack of structure observed between populations from Moorea and Rangiroa. Finally, samples from six Indo-West Pacific locations, Zanzibar, Indonesia, Japan, Christmas Island, Hawaii, and French Polynesia were compared (third spatial scale). Strong population structure was observed between Indo-West Pacific populations.

Received: 26 May 2000 / Accepted: 10 October 2000