First genealogy for a wild marine fish population reveals multigenerational philopatry

Natal philopatry, the return of individuals to their natal area for reproduction, has advantages and disadvantages for animal populations. Natal philopatry may generate local genetic adaptation, but it may also increase the probability of inbreeding that can compromise persistence. Although natal philopatry is well documented in anadromous fishes, marine fish may also return to their birth site to spawn. How philopatry shapes wild fish populations is, however, unclear because it requires constructing multigenerational pedigrees that are currently lacking for marine fishes. Here we present the first multigenerational pedigree for a marine fish population by repeatedly genotyping all individuals in a population of the orange clownfish (Amphiprion percula) at Kimbe Island (Papua New Guinea) during a 10-y period. Based on 2927 individuals, our pedigree analysis revealed that longitudinal philopatry was recurrent over five generations. Progeny tended to settle close to their parents, with related individuals often sharing the same colony. However, successful inbreeding was rare, and genetic diversity remained high, suggesting occasional inbreeding does not impair local population persistence. Local reproductive success was dependent on the habitat larvae settled into, rather than the habitat they came from. Our study suggests that longitudinal philopatry can influence both population replenishment and local adaptation of marine fishes. Resolving multigenerational pedigrees during a relatively short period, as we present here, provides a framework for assessing the ability of marine populations to persist and adapt to accelerating climate change.

Salles OC, Pujol B, Maynard JA, Almany GR, Berumen ML, et al. (2016) First genealogy for a wild marine fish population reveals multigenerational philopatry. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 113: 13245–13250. Available:

We thank the large number of volunteers who assisted in the field and collected tissue samples: R. Brooker, S. Choukroun, P. Costello, J. Davies, D. Dixson, K. Furby, M. Giru, B. Grover, J. Hill, N. Jones, K. McMahon, G. Nanninga, M. Noble, S. Noonan, N. Raventos Klein, M. Pinsky, M. Priest, J. Roberts, J. Smith, T. Sinclair Taylor, N. Tolou, M. Takahashi, P. Waldie, and M. White. Mahonia and FeBrina provided essential logistic support. We are grateful to the traditional owners of the reefs near Kimbe Island for allowing us access to their reefs. Finally, we thank the two anonymous reviewers for their many insightful comments and their contributions to the final draft. This research was supported by Laboratoire d'Excellence CORAIL, Expenditure Review Committee, Coral Reef Initiatives for the Pacific, the Global Environment Facility Coral Reef Targeted Research Connectivity Working Group, National Science Foundation, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence Coral Reef Studies, The Nature Conservancy, Total Foundation, James Cook University, King Abdullah University of Science and Techology, and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Research visas were approved by the Papua New Guinea (PNG) government and research protocols were endorsed by the Board of Mahonia Na Dari Research and Conservation Centre, Kimbe, PNG.

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences


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