Self-fertilization, Larval Dispersal, and Population Structure in the Marine Bryozoan Bugula stolonifera

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Self-fertilization, Larval Dispersal, and Population Structure in the Marine Bryozoan Bugula stolonifera

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Title: Self-fertilization, Larval Dispersal, and Population Structure in the Marine Bryozoan Bugula stolonifera
Author: Johnson, Collin Hauer
Citation: Johnson, Collin Hauer. 2012. Self-fertilization, Larval Dispersal, and Population Structure in the Marine Bryozoan Bugula stolonifera. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
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Abstract: Although the process by which fertilization occurs in bryozoans is well described, the ability to self-fertilize and the subsequent ecological consequences are poorly understood. Culturing experiments were conducted examining the effects of selfing on offspring survival and reproduction in the simultaneous hermaphrodite Bugula stolonifera collected from Eel Pond, Woods Hole, MA. Results from these experiments document significant decreases in survival and fecundity of selfed offspring, compared to outcrossed controls, suggesting that these animals are not routinely self-fertilizing in Eel Pond. How these arborescent colonies minimize selfing remains unclear, but it is hypothesized that conspecific aggregations could serve to minimize the chances that a colony utilizes its own sperm for fertilization. The genetic composition of these aggregations was investigated using a newly developed microsatellite library. As larvae routinely metamorphose on conspecific colonies, the possibility that larvae select or avoid their maternal colony was also investigated. Analyses of genetic structure document homogeneity throughout these aggregations on extremely small spatial scales, suggesting high amounts of larval dispersal within aggregations. When combined with results from parentage-exclusion and kinship analyses, these results indicate that a colony's nearest neighbors are not composed of siblings, potentially minimizing inbreeding. Molecular analyses were then used to determine if the high larval dispersal within aggregations resulted in high mixing between aggregations. Sites within Eel Pond separated by 100-300 m were routinely sampled from 2009 to 2011, and analyses were conducted to investigate potential inter- and intra-annual genotypic differentiation within and between aggregations. Results document that although low levels of mixing could result in increased homogeneity between some aggregations, barriers to genetic exchange prevent mixing between most sites. Further, inter-annual comparisons within sites document that significant differentiation can occur between reproductive seasons. Hence, any potential homogeneity achieved between sites during one reproductive season will likely be lost by the beginning of the next reproductive season. Additionally, while sampling in Eel Pond in 2010, I document the first occurrence from the western Atlantic Ocean of another aggregating arborescent bryozoan, Tricellaria inopinata. The growth and reproductive biology of these animals was monitored throughout 2011; results suggest that this introduction is likely to persist.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:9406021
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