Marko, P. B., and M. W. Hart. 2017. Genetic analysis of larval dispersal, gene flow, and connectivity. In Carrier, T. C., A. M. Reitzel, A. M., and A. Heyland (eds.), Evolutionary Ecology of Marine Invertebrate Larvae. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Genetic data can be used to characterize the scale or magnitude of connectivity via larval dispersal in the plankton as the per capita migration rate (m), the rate of gene flow (Nm), or counts of immigrant individuals. Population-based methods infer average effective rates of connectivity on long time scales (hundreds to thousands of generations), and those estimates will influenced by many processes (including larval dispersal). Individual-based methods based on clustering or assignment of individual genotypes to populations or families are suitable for estimating connectivity on short timescales. The typical or characteristic larval dispersal distance for any one system of populations may best be characterized by isolation-by-distance patterns (using population model methods) or by the dispersal kernel (using parentage-based methods). Migration rates estimated from individual-based methods may be more relevant to ecological studies of demographic connectivity (e.g., among demes in a network of marine prote ted areas) compared to rates of gene flow estimated from population-based methods.