Population genetic structure of the European lobster (Homarus gammarus) in the Irish Sea and implications for the effectiveness of the first British marine protected area

Hayley Watson, Niall McKeown, Ilaria Coscia, Emma Wootton, Joseph Ironside

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Abstract

Levels of self-recruitment within and connectivity among populations are key factors influencing marine population persistence and stock sustainability, as well as the effectiveness of spatially explicit management strategies such as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). In the United Kingdom (UK), Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel was designated a No-Take Zone (NTZ) in 2003 and became the UK’s first Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) in 2009. This NTZ is expected to represent an additional resource for the sustainable management of the European lobster (Homarus gammarus) fishery. As the first step in a genetic monitoring program, this study aimed to investigate population genetic structure of lobster within and between the Irish Sea and Bristol Channel and in doing so to assess the functioning of the Lundy NTZ in the context of connectivity and other genetic parameters. Analysis of microsatellite data indicated that lobsters within the study area are genetically homogeneous and supports the view of a single panmictic population wherein the Lundy NTZ is highly connected. Levels of genetic variability were universally high with no evidence of differences for the NTZ. Furthermore, there was no evidence of recent genetic bottlenecks, and estimates of effective population sizes were infinitely large. The results suggest that if current management and breeding stock sizes are maintained genetic drift will not be strong enough to reduce neutral genetic diversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287-293
Number of pages7
JournalFisheries Research
Volume183
Early online date04 Jul 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 01 Nov 2016

Keywords

  • marine protected area
  • population genetics
  • sustinability
  • larval connectivity
  • recruitment
  • crustacean

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