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Loss of microsatellite diversity and low effective population size in an overexploited population of New Zealand snapper (Pagrus auratus)

By Lorenz Hauser, Greg J. Adcock, Peter J. Smith, Julio H. Bernal Ramírez and Gary R. Carvalho


Although the effects of overfishing on species diversity and abundance are well documented, threats to the genetic diversity of marine fish populations have so far been largely neglected. Indeed, there seems to be little cause for concern, as even “collapsed” stocks usually consist of several million individuals, whereas population genetics theory suggests that only very small populations suffer significant loss of genetic diversity. On the other hand, in many marine species the genetically effective population size (N(e)), which determines the genetic properties of a population, may be orders of magnitude smaller than the census population size (N). Here, microsatellite analyses of a time series of archived scales demonstrated a significant decline in genetic diversity in a New Zealand snapper population during its exploitation history. Effective population sizes estimated both from the decline in heterozygosity and from temporal fluctuations in allele frequency were five orders of magnitude smaller than census population sizes from fishery data. If such low N(e)/N ratios are commonplace in marine species, many exploited marine fish stocks may be in danger of losing genetic variability, potentially resulting in reduced adaptability, population persistence, and productivity

Topics: Biological Sciences
Publisher: The National Academy of Sciences
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1073/pnas.172242899
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Provided by: PubMed Central
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