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Journal of Marine Biology
Volume 2011, Article ID 396982, 14 pages
Review Article

Comparative Phylogeography of the Coral Triangle and Implications for Marine Management

1Biological Sciences and International Union for Conservation of Nature/Conservation International Global Marine Species Assessment, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA
2Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, University of California Los Angeles, 621 Charles E. Young Dr. South, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA
3Biological Sciences, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, VA 23529, USA
4Biology Department, De La Salle University Manila, 2401 Taft Avenue, Manila 1004, Philippines
5Faculty of Fisheries and Marine Science, Diponegoro University, Semarang 50275, Indonesia
6Animal Biomedical and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Udayana University Bali, Jl Sesetan-Markisa 6, Denpasar, Bali 80225, Indonesia
7Borneo Marine Research Institute, University Malaysia Sabah, Locked Bag 2073, 88400 Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
8Marine Science Institute, University of the Philippines, Dilliman, Quezon City 1101, Philippines
9Marine Fisheries Research Division, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, 940 Quezon Avenue, Quezon City 1103, Philippines
10Faculty of Animal Sciences, Fisheries and Marine Science, The State University of Papua, Manokwari-West Papua 98314, Indonesia

Received 15 June 2010; Accepted 3 September 2010

Academic Editor: Robert J. Toonen

Copyright © 2011 Kent E. Carpenter 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.


Extreme concentration of marine biodiversity and exploitation of marine resources in the Coral Triangle pose challenges to biogeographers and resource managers. Comparative phylogeography provides a powerful tool to test biogeographic hypotheses evoked to explain species richness in the Coral Triangle. It can also be used to delineate management units for marine resources. After about a decade of phylogeographical studies, patterns for the Coral Triangle are emerging. Broad connectivity in some species support the notion that larvae have maintained gene flow among distant populations for long periods. Other phylogeographic patterns suggest vicariant events resulting from Pleistocene sea level fluctuations, which have, at least occasionally, resulted in speciation. Divergence dates ranging back to the Miocene suggest that changing land configurations may have precipitated an explosion of species diversification. A synthesis of the marine phylogeographic studies reveals repeated patterns that corroborate hypothesized biogeographic processes and suggest improved management schemes for marine resources.