Meeting Abstract

S4-2.3  Thursday, Jan. 5  Selection, dispersal and the geography of phenotype in the sea SOTKA, E.E.; College of Charleston

Population-level differences in phenotypic traits (a.k.a., the geography of phenotype) have been the research focus of evolutionary ecologists since and including the studies of Charles Darwin. One of the great challenges that remains is to understand the extent to which the geography of phenotype reflects neutral processes (demographic history, dispersal and genetic drift), adaptation to local environments or a mix of neutral and non-neutral processes. The debate has broad implications for understanding the dispersal of marine larvae. When phenotypic differences among populations reflect neutral processes, then larval dispersal is limited by principally physical or oceanographic barriers. When phenotypic differences among populations reflect local selection, then organism-environment mismatches limit dispersal distance. In this talk, I will discuss the status of this challenge using coastal organisms that span the Atlantic coast of the United States as case studies.