Latitudinal variability in spatial genetic structure in the invasive ascidian, Styela plicata

Gwendolyn David, Dustin Marshall, Cynthia Riginos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Increases in temperature can shorten planktonic larval durations, so that higher temperatures may reduce dispersal distances for many marine animals. To test this prediction, we first quantified how minimum time to settlement is shortened at higher temperatures for the ascidian Styela plicata. Second, using latitude as a correlate for ocean temperature and spatial genetic structure as a proxy for dispersal, we tested for a negative correlation between latitude and spatial genetic structure within populations, as measured by anonymous DNA markers. Spatial genetic structure was variable among latitudes, with significant structure at low and intermediate latitudes (high and medium temperatures) and there was no genetic structure within high-latitude (low temperature) populations. In addition, we found consistently high genetic diversity across all Australian populations, showing no evidence for recent local bottlenecks associated S. plicata s history as an invasive species. There was, however, significant genetic differentiation between all populations indicating limited ongoing gene flow.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1955 - 1965
Number of pages11
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

Cite this