Date of Award

December 2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Filipe A Alberto

Committee Members

Erica Young, Emily Latch, Jeffrey Karron


macroalgae, population genetics, Puget Sound, Salish Sea


The brown alga Nereocystis luetkeana is a foundation species found from Alaska to California. In the Salish Sea, N. luetkeana is declining, but little is known about its population structure. We explored N. luetkeana 1) allelic dissimilarity and richness using seven microsatellite markers, and 2) tested models of gene flow in the Salish Sea using a hydrodynamic transport model. Our results suggest that the N. luetkeana distribution is comprised of four genetic co-ancestry groups that are geographically coherent, apart from the separation of the Strait of Georgia/Puget Sound by the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Our model supported that environmental variables and oceanographic currents affect gene flow and population connectivity in the Salish Sea. Removal of geography and similarity of allelic identity and richness revealed that northern and southern sites were members of one cluster, supporting northern and southern refugia served as ancestral sources of modern-day genetic diversity.