Marine Biology

, Volume 157, Issue 2, pp 437–445 | Cite as

Local and regional genetic connectivity in a Caribbean coral reef fish

  • Eva SalasEmail author
  • Helena Molina-Ureña
  • Ryan P. Walter
  • Daniel D. Heath
Original Paper


Coupled bio-physical models of larval dispersal predict that the Costa Rica–Panama (CR–PAN) reefs should constitute a demographically isolated region in the western Caribbean. We tested the hypothesis that CR–PAN coral reef fish populations would be isolated from Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System (MBRS) populations. To test that, we assessed population genetic structure in bicolor damselfish (Stegastes partitus) from both regions. Adult fish were genotyped from five reefs in CR–PAN and from four reefs along the MBRS at 12 microsatellite loci. Between-region F ST (F ST = 0.0030, P < 0.005) and exact test (x 2 = 74.34, df = 18, P < 0.0001) results indicated that there is weak but significant genetic differentiation between regions, suggesting some restriction in connectivity along the Central American coastline, as predicted by bio-oceanographic models. Additionally, there is among-site genetic structure in the CR–PAN region, relative to the MBRS and between regions, suggesting higher self-recruitment within CR–PAN. This finding may be explained by differences in habitat characteristics.


Genetic Structure Coral Reef Fish Sequential Bonferroni Correction Pelagic Larval Duration Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was funded by the Connectivity Working Group of the Coral Reef Targeted Research (CRTR) Program, a Global Environment Facility—World Bank—University of Queensland international program and the Natural Science and Engineering Council of Canada (NSERC), and supported by project 808-A6-125 (CIMAR, Universidad de Costa Rica). We are grateful to E. Fuchs, A. Fonseca, and J. Lobo for their help during the project. We thank Calabash Key Research Station of the University of Belize and the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) in Panama. Thanks for field assistance go to J.D. Hogan, R. Thiessen, D. Hasselman, C. Nolan, J. Saballo, J. Hancock, S. Larkin, N. Barrantes, R. Villalta and the boat captains from Manzanillo and STRI. Thanks also to Comisión Nacional para la Gestión de la Biodiversidad (CONAGEBIO) and Ministerio de Ambiente, Energía y Telecomunicaciones (MINAET) in Costa Rica for logistic support. Special thanks for PF Sale for his support during the development of this work.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva Salas
    • 1
    Email author
  • Helena Molina-Ureña
    • 1
  • Ryan P. Walter
    • 2
  • Daniel D. Heath
    • 2
  1. 1.Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología (CIMAR)Universidad de Costa Rica San Pedro de M.O.San JoseCosta Rica
  2. 2.Great Lakes Institute for Environmental ResearchUniversity of WindsorWindsorCanada

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