A multi-locus assessment of connectivity and historical demography in the bluehead wrasse (Thalassoma bifasciatum)

Heredity (Edinb). 2007 May;98(5):294-302. doi: 10.1038/sj.hdy.6800940. Epub 2007 Jan 31.


The pelagic larval stage of most coral reef fishes might allow extensive dispersal or, alternatively, some level of local recruitment might be important. Molecular markers can be used to obtain indirect estimates of dispersal to evaluate these alternatives, yet the extent of gene flow among populations is known for only a small number of species. The use of such markers must take into account the properties of the markers and the demographic history of the population when making inferences about current gene flow. In the Caribbean bluehead wrasse, Thalassoma bifasciatum, previous studies have found both substantial levels of local recruitment, in studies interpreting otolith microchemistry and, conversely, a lack of genetic differentiation inferred from mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) restriction-fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) data and allozymes. However, if subtle differentiation exists, larger sample sizes and highly variable markers may be required to discern it. Here we present results from mitochondrial control region sequence and microsatellite data that indicate a lack of genetic differentiation at both small and large spatial scales. However, historical processes, such as changes in population size, may have affected the current distribution of genetic variation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Migration*
  • Animals
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics
  • Demography*
  • Evolution, Molecular*
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Genotype
  • Geography
  • Larva / genetics
  • Larva / physiology
  • Microsatellite Repeats
  • Perciformes / genetics
  • Perciformes / physiology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Population Dynamics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Mitochondrial