Non-random mating and population genetic subdivision of two broadcasting corals at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia
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Allozyme electrophoresis of two corals was used to assess whether populations at Ningaloo Reef, Western Australia are primarily self-seeding or whether recruitment is from a broader geographic pool. Significant genetic subdivision across a range of spatial scales (between 6.5 km and 155 km) was found for both Acropora digitifera and A. aspera, with mean FST values of 0.010 and 0.067 respectively. Large departures from Hardy-Weinberg expectations were found for both species. Without exception these were due to deficits of heterozygotes; mean D values were −0.341 for A. digitifera and −0.455 for A. aspera. The magnitude of the deficits was consistent both across loci for all sites and across all sites for each locus. Some loci were found to be in linkage disequilibrium but no consistent pattern was observed. Also, multi-locus genotypic diversity values were generally high (between 0.83 and 1.00) and so departures from equilibria cannot be attributed to asexual reproduction. The most plausible explanation for the patterns observed is restricted gene flow at both the planktonic and gametic stages, with mating between close relatives.