Current hypotheses to explain genetic chaos under the sea

Chaotic genetic patchiness (CGP) refers to surprising patterns of spatial and temporal genetic structure observed in some marine species at a scale where genetic variation should be efficiently homogenized by gene flow via larval dispersal. Here we review and discuss 4 mechanisms that could generate such unexpected patterns: selection, sweepstakes reproductive success, collective dispersal, and temporal shifts in local population dynamics. First, we review examples where genetic differentiation at specific loci was driven by diversifying selection, which was historically the first process invoked to explain CGP. Second, we turn to neutral demographic processes that may drive genome-wide effects, and whose effects on CGP may be enhanced when they act together. We discuss how sweepstakes reproductive success accelerates genetic drift and can thus generate genetic structure, provided that gene flow is not too strong. Collective dispersal is another mechanism whereby genetic structure can be maintained regardless of dispersal intensity, because it may prevent larval cohorts from becoming entirely mixed. Theoretical analyses of both the sweepstakes and the collective dispersal ideas are presented. Finally, we discuss an idea that has received less attention than the other ones just mentioned, namely temporal shifts in local population dynamics.


asynchronous population dynamics, chaotic genetic patchiness, collective dispersal, kin aggregation, larval dispersal, multiple-merger coalescent, sweepstakes reproductive success

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Eldon Bjarki, Riquet Florentine, Yearsley Jon, Jollivet Didier, Broquet Thomas (2016). Current hypotheses to explain genetic chaos under the sea. Current Zoology. 62 (6). 551-566.,

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