Cook, Benjamin D.; Bernays, Sofie; Pringle, Catherine M.; Hughes, Jane M. 2009. Marine dispersal determines the genetic population structure of migratory stream fauna of Puerto Rico: evidence for island-scale population recovery processes. Journal of the North American Benthological Society. 28(3): 709-718.
Various components of island stream faunas, including caridean shrimps, fish, and gastropods, undertake obligate amphidromous migration, whereby larvae are released in upstream freshwater reaches, drift downstream to estuaries or marine waters, then migrate upstream as postlarvae to freshwater adult habitats. Longitudinal migration from estuaries to headwaters is well documented for many amphidromous species, but the degree of among-river marine dispersal is poorly known for most species. We need better understanding of the potential for marine dispersal in population processes of amphidromous species, particularly recolonization and population recovery in impacted lotic systems, such as those on Puerto Rico, because some theories of dispersal for species with marine larvae predict high rates of self-recruitment. We tested population genetic predictions for widespread marine larval dispersal and self-recruitment to the natal river for 11 amphidromous species, including shrimps, fish, and a gastropod, in Puerto Rico. Population genetic analysis of mitochondrial DNA data showed high rates of gene flow among rivers and indicated that marine dispersal determines the population genetic structure of all 11 species. Difficulty in recruiting to oceanic currents promotes closed population structures in some marine species, but larvae of amphidromous species entrained in downstream river flow might be delivered more readily to ocean currents. Population recovery processes occurred at the island scale rather than at the river scale, but further studies are needed to identify whether population recovery processes are likely at larger spatial scales (e.g., among islands). River management strategies should maintain environmental flows that allow larval export, maintain longitudinal dispersal pathways over dam spillways and via subterranean passages, and maintain open and healthy estuaries.