Oceanography limits connectivity in southern Australia

Our paper about marine connectivity just published in Nature’s Scientific Reports has important implications for the design of marine protected areas (MPAs), especially in South Australia. We jointly analysed oceanographic connectivity simulations and highly resolving genetic data and show that coastal currents – instead of promoting dispersal across vast regions as traditionally assumed – are actually promoting the retention of larvae close to parental habitats, even in high ‘dispersive’ species. 

This supports the idea that closely spaced MPAs represent a more suitable management approach than the design of large but geographically distant MPAs, because the majority of larvae will not disperse over greater distances.

We plan to better assess this finding using population genomic data of multiple species from across SA’s network of marine parks.