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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 518516, 12 pages
Research Article

Not All Larvae Stay Close to Home: Insights into Marine Population Connectivity with a Focus on the Brown Surgeonfish (Acanthurus nigrofuscus)

1Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of Hawaii at Manoa, P.O. Box 1346, Kaneohe, HI 96744, USA
2Marine Science Institute, University of Texas at Austin, Port Aransas, TX 78373, USA
3Department of Marine Sciences, University of Puerto Rico Mayagüez, P.O. Box 9000, Mayagüez, PR 00681, USA

Received 16 June 2010; Revised 18 August 2010; Accepted 19 September 2010

Academic Editor: Kim Selkoe

Copyright © 2011 Jeff A. Eble et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Recent reports of localized larval recruitment in predominately small-range fishes are countered by studies that show high genetic connectivity across large oceanic distances. This discrepancy may result from the different timescales over which genetic and demographic processes operate or rather may indicate regular long-distance dispersal in some species. Here, we contribute an analysis of mtDNA cytochrome b diversity in the widely distributed Brown Surgeonfish (Acanthurus nigrofuscus; N=560), which revealed significant genetic structure only at the extremes of the range (ΦCT=0.452; P<.001). Collections from Hawaii to the Eastern Indian Ocean comprise one large, undifferentiated population. This pattern of limited genetic subdivision across reefs of the central Indo-Pacific has been observed in a number of large-range reef fishes. Conversely, small-range fishes are often deeply structured over the same area. These findings demonstrate population connectivity differences among species at biogeographic and evolutionary timescales, which likely translates into differences in dispersal ability at ecological and demographic timescales. While interspecific differences in population connectivity complicate the design of management strategies, the integration of multiscale connectivity patterns into marine resource planning will help ensure long-term ecosystem stability by preserving functionally diverse communities.