Life history, ecology and the biogeography of strong genetic breaks among 15 species of Pacific rockfish,Sebastes

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Strong genetic change over short spatial scales is surprising among marine species with high dispersal potential. Concordant breaks among several species signals a role for geographic barriers to dispersal. Along the coast of California, such breaks have not been seen across the biogeographic barrier of Point Conception, but other potential geographic boundaries have been surveyed less often. We tested for strong-population structure in 11 species of Sebastes sampled across two regions containing potential dispersal barriers, and conducted a meta-analysis including four additional species. We show two strong breaks north of Monterey Bay, spanning an oceanographic gradient and an upwelling jet. Moderate genetic structure is just as common in the north as it is in the south, across the biogeographic break at Point Conception. Gene flow is generally higher among deep-water species, but these conclusions are confounded by phylogeny. Species in the subgenus Sebastosomus have higher structure than those in the subgenus Pteropodus, despite having larvae with longer pelagic phases. Differences in settlement behavior in the face of ocean currents might help explain these differences. Across similar species across the same coastal environment, we document a wide variety of patterns in gene flow, suggesting that interaction of individual species traits such as settlement behavior with environmental factors such as oceanography can strongly impact population structure.

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