Meeting Abstract

S4-2.2  Thursday, Jan. 5  Bridging ecological and evolutionary timescales with spatially-explicit network analysis of marine population connectivity TREML, EA; University of Queensland, Qld, Australia

Marine population connectivity describes the likelihood that an individual of a population can disperse some distance from its natal habitat patch to settle in available downstream habitat. This connectivity is often critical for metapopulation persistence, range size expansion, and a species’ ability to cope with climate change. Unfortunately, identifying the important biophysical drivers and the resultant patterns in connectivity poses one of the greatest challenges in marine ecology. We quantify the complex interaction between the dynamic seascape and species' life history characteristics to (1) highlight the influence of key biological and physical parameters on population connectivity and (2) map the spatiotemporal patterns emerging from these interactions. We describe a spatially-explicit biophysical modelling approach that effectively quantifies population connectivity across species, from demographically relevant to evolutionarily significant scales. These population connectivity estimates are transformed into marine population networks where we apply graph-theoretic algorithms to re-evaluate connectivity, identify network-wide properties, and quantify each site’s contribution to system dynamics. Finally, we highlight multi-species dispersal corridors, semi-permeable barriers, critical stepping-stones, and the emergent spatial structure of marine population connectivity. We close with recommendations on how population connectivity estimates can be explicitly integrated within the conservation planning framework.