Molecular tools perform at their best when integrated with other data and approaches. The value of integrating approaches is especially high when the underlying genetic signal is relatively weak, as occurs in many marine species. Recently, studies combining genetic, oceanographic, behavioural and modelling approaches have provided new insights into the spatial ecology of marine populations, in particular regarding larval migration, barriers to dispersal and source-sink population dynamics. In this perspectives piece, we explore the advantages of a multidisciplinary approach to marine population genetics by (i) providing a synthesis of what has been learned about connectivity from studies that combine genetic data with other tools, (ii) discussing how incorporation of ecological and oceanographic information into alternative hypotheses can boost inference when genetic power is low, and (iii) summarizing recent innovations in statistical population genetics that enable seamless integration of ecological, environmental and genetic data. These topics are covered in the context of how genetic inferences of connectivity and dispersal can contribute to pressing questions facing marine conservation and management.
- Approximate Bayesian computation
- Otolith microchemistry
- Particle simulation
- Temporal larval sampling