Population genetic status of the Western Indian Ocean: what do we know?
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Population genetics offers a useful technique for studying the population structure of marine organisms and has relevance to both systematics and the conservation of biodiversity. The Western Indian Ocean (WIO) is faced with increasing evidence of degradation and effective management initiatives are needed to curtail the environmental decline. The management of the WIO region can therefore benefit from the information that population genetics can provide. Extensive literature searches revealed only 31 genetic references for the WIO region. From a biogeographic point of view, the WIO shows little genetic exchange with the rest of the Indo- Pacific, but from a regional perspective, the limited information that exists points towards widespread genetic structuring in the reefs off tropical Africa and the Indian Ocean islands, and greater connectivity amongst southeast African reefs. However, much more information is needed in the region before the true strength of population genetic data can be used as a primary tool for management.