Understanding the patterns of connectivity is required by the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020 and will be used to guide the extension of marine protection measures.
This study applied an interdisciplinary approach that combined demographic surveys, genetic methods and larval transport simulations to test the relative importance of demographics and ocean currents in shaping the recent patterns of gene flow among populations of the Mediterranean gorgonian Eunicella singularis in a fragmented rocky habitat (Gulf of Lion, NW Mediterranean Sea).
The obtained results show that a pelagic larval duration ranging from 7 to 14 days is sufficient to connect the fragmented rocky substrate of the Gulf of Lion. The study identified the rocky areas located in the centre of the Gulf of Lion, which are currently unprotected, as essential hubs for the distribution of migrants in the region.
The authors highlight that the results have important implications for regional conservation and the spatial management of benthic sessile species in the Gulf of Lion and advocate for enforcing the protection of the sites identified as important for the regional persistence of rocky species.
Padrón M, Costantini F, Baksay S, Bramanti L, Guizien K (2018) Passive larval transport explains recent gene flow in a Mediterranean gorgonian. Coral Reefs 37:495-506