Sharp and stable clinal variation is enigmatic when found in species with high gene flow. Classical population genetic models treat gene flow as a random homogenizing force countering local adaptation across habitat discontinuities. Under this view, dispersal over large spatial scales will lower the effectiveness of adaptation by natural selection at finer spatial scales. Thus, random gene flow will create a shallow phenotypic cline across an ecotone in response to a steep selection gradient. In sedentary marine species that disperse primarily as larvae, nonrandom dispersal patterns are expected due to coastal hydrodynamics. Surprisingly sharp phenotypic and genotypic clines have been documented in marine species with high gene flow. We are interested in the extent to which nonrandom dispersal could accentuate such clines. We model a linear species range in which populations have stable and uniform densities along a selection gradient; in contrast to random dispersal, convergent advection of larvae can amplify phenotypic differentiation if coupled with a semipermeable dispersal barrier in the convergence zone. The migration load caused by directional dispersal pushes the phenotypic mean away from the local trait optimum in downstream populations, that is, near the convergence zone. A dispersal barrier is possible as a result of colliding currents if the water and larvae are mostly displaced offshore, away from suitable settlement habitat. Disjunctions in a quantitative trait were enlarged in the convergence zone by faster current flows or a more complete dispersal barrier. With advection of larvae per generation one-third as far as the average dispersal distance by diffusion, convergence on a dispersal barrier with 40% permeability generated a trait disjunction across the convergence zone of two phenotypic standard deviations. Without directional dispersal, similar clines also developed across a habitat gap, where population density was low, or across dispersal barriers with less than 1% permeability. These findings suggest that the types of hydrographic phenomena often associated with marine transition zones can strongly affect the balance between gene flow and selection and generate surprisingly steep clines given the large-scale gene flow expected from larvae.
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Vol. 59 • No. 12