Get access

Taking the Plunge: An Introduction to Undertaking Seascape Genetic Studies and using Biophysical Models



The field of seascape genetics aims to evaluate the effects of environmental features on spatial genetic patterns of marine organisms. Although many methods of genetic analysis and inference appropriate to “marine landscapes” derive from terrestrial landscape genetics, aspects of marine living introduce special challenges for assessing spatial genetic variation. For instance, marine organisms are often highly dispersive, so that genetic patterns can be subtle, and the temporal variability of the marine environment makes these patterns difficult to characterise. Tools and techniques from oceanography can help describe the highly connected and dynamic nature of the marine environment. In particular, models incorporating physical oceanography and species attributes in realistic simulations (e.g. biophysical models) can help us understand this complex process and formulate spatially explicit biologically-informed predictions of gene flow. Thus, researchers embarking on a seascape genetic study need a solid understanding of marine organisms and spatial genetics perhaps combined with knowledge of physical oceanography and ecological modeling. Although some researchers may acquire proficiency in all of these areas, seascape genetic studies incorporating biophysical modeling are likely to bring together groups of investigators with complementary expertise. This preliminary guide is intended to be a starting point for a reader new to either seascape genetics or biophysical models.

Get access to the full text of this article