Research - Genetic Population Structure
Organisms occur across different spatial scales in the environment. All of the individuals throughout the entire range of a species are known as the population or the metapopulation. Because not all individuals across a species’ range interact and reproduce together, smaller pockets of individuals within the population evolve together over time. These are called subpopulations and the breakup of the metapopulation into subpopulations is called genetic structure. Population geneticists study the level of connectivity (called gene flow) between these subpopulations. Because subpopulations have adapted to environmental pressures at the local level, mixing individuals from different subpopulations can have deleterious genetic effects, therefore it is essential for any marine stocking program to identify genetic structure in a population targeted for enhancement prior to the culture and release of an organism.