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Barriers to gene flow in common seadragons (Syngnathidae: Phyllopteryx taeniolatus)

Currently, common seadragons are categorized as Near Threatened by the IUCN (Connolly 2006). Habitat loss and collection for trade have been evaluated as the major extrinsic threats to seadragon populations and intrinsically, their limited dispersal potential (Connolly 2006). The criteria that have proved harder to evaluate are associated with population trends. Our study indicates that the assumption of a continuous distribution along the southern coast needs to be re-evaluated, and tested with multi-locus data. If the genetic gap detected at the GAB is a real distribution break for common seadragons, the adjusted distribution, and thus area of occupancy would impact population estimates. We demonstrate strong geographic signal in population structure, which is likely a manifestation of the reduced dispersal in this species. The low genetic diversity of several populations in New South Wales and Tasmania may warrant attention given the predicted changes of the eastern Australian coastline due to climate chang

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