Population genetic structure in European lobsters: implications for connectivity, diversity and hatchery stocking
Ellis, Charlie D
Hodgson, David J
Daniels, Carly L
Griffiths, Amber GF
Marine Ecology Progress Series
Article published under a Creative Commons licence (CC-BY 3.0 unported), which enables all users unrestricted access, use, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are clearly acknowledged. This is the final version of the article, available from Inter Research via the DOI in this record.
The European lobster Homarus gammarus is a marine crustacean prized for seafood, but populations across its range are threatened by fishery overexploitation. The species’ larval stages are planktonic, suggesting considerable dispersal among populations. The potential threats of overexploitation and erosion of population structure due to hatchery releases or inadvertent introductions make it important to understand the genetic structuring of populations across multiple geographic scales. Here we assess lobster population structure at a fine scale in Cornwall, southwestern UK, where a hatchery-stocking operation introduces cultured individuals into the wild stock, and at a broader European level, in order to compare the spatial scale of hatchery releases with that of population connectivity. Microsatellite genotypes of 24 individuals from each of 13 locations in Cornwall showed no fine-scale population structure across distances of up to ~230 km. Significant differentiation and isolation by distance were detected at a broader scale, using 300 additional individuals comprising a further 15 European samples. Signals of genetic heterogeneity were evident between an Atlantic cluster and samples from Sweden. Connectivity within the Atlantic and Swedish clusters was high, although evidence for isolation by distance and a transitional zone within the eastern North Sea suggested that direct gene exchange between these stocks is limited and fits a stepping-stone model. We conclude that hatchery-reared lobsters should not be released where broodstock are distantly sourced but, using Cornwall as a case study, microsatellites revealed no evidence that the normal release of hatchery stock exceeds the geographic scale of natural connectivity.
European Social Fund
Worshipful Company of Fishmongers
This research was supported by Lobster Grower 2, a 3 yr project funded by Innovate-UK (TS/ N006097/1) and BBSRC (BB/N013891/1) under an AgriTech Catalyst Industrial Stage Award. We are also greatly appreciative of the studentship funding provided by the European Social Fund and of the grant awarded by the Fishmonger’s Company, UK, both of which made the work possible.
Vol. 563, pp. 123-137.