Population connectivity among Dry Tortugas, Florida, and Caribbean populations of mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis), inferred from multiple microsatellite loci


Shulzitski, Kathryn, Michael A. McCartney, and Michael L. Burton
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Determining patterns of population connectivity is critical to the evaluation of marine reserves as recruitment sources for harvested populations. Mutton snapper (Lutjanus analis) is a good test case because the last known major spawning aggregation in U.S. waters was granted no-take status in the Tortugas South Ecological Reserve (TSER) in 2001. To evaluate the TSER population as a recruitment source, we genotyped mutton snapper from the Dry Tortugas, southeast Florida, and from three locations across the Caribbean at eight microsatellite loci. Both F-statistics and individual-based Bayesian analyses indicated that genetic substructure was absent across the five populations. Genetic homogeneity of mutton snapper populations is consistent with its pelagic larval duration of 27 to 37 days and adult behavior of annual migrations to large spawning aggregations. Statistical power of future genetic assessments of mutton snapper population connectivity may benefit from more comprehensive geographic sampling, and perhaps from the development of less polymorphic DNA microsatellite loci. Research where alternative methods are used, such as the transgenerational marking of embryonic otoliths with barium stable isotopes, is also needed on this and other species with diverse life history characteristics to further evaluate the TSER as a recruitment source and to define corridors of population connectivity across the Caribbean and Florida.