Meeting Abstract

S4-1.6  Thursday, Jan. 5  Haplotypes, genetic distance and the inference of dispersal patterns using analysis of molecular variance BIRD, Christopher E*; TIMMERS, Molly A.; SMOUSE, Peter E.; TOONEN, Robert J.; University of Hawaii at Manoa; NOAA Honolulu; Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; University of Hawaii at Manoa cbird@hawaii.edu

Tracking the dispersal routes of marine organisms is a major conservation challenge in the study of ecology, evolution, and conservation biology. The PCR revolution and subsequent widespread use of molecular techniques to infer dispersal patterns has produced large amounts of data; however, interpretation is not always straightforward. Here, we investigate the dispersal patterns of the destructive coral-eating crown of thorns sea star, Acanthaster planci, using both haplotype-based and genetic distance-based analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA). While it is often assumed that accounting for the evolutionary relationships among haplotypes (distance-based AMOVA) add resolution to an analysis, we demonstrate that under commonly occurring circumstances, haplotype-based AMOVA provides better resolution. We present a unique method of determining the utility of distance-based and haplotype-based AMOVA. In the case of A. planci, distance-based AMOVA is informative at large spatial scales, where there is a strong association between molecular similarity and spatial distribution. Counter to popular intuition, haplotype-based AMOVA is more informative at fine spatial scales where migration rate is outstripping the mutation rate of our marker (mitochondrial control region). Armed with this information, we conclude that the dispersal patterns of A. planci are even more spatially restricted than we have previously proposed, and it is difficult for outbreaks of the sea star to propagate across deep ocean channels. These techniques and results are broadly applicable to all taxa, especially given the movement towards genome-wide surveys of single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) haplotypes.