Geographic structure in Alaskan Pacific ocean perch (Sebastes alutus) indicates limited lifetime dispersal
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- Palof, K.J., Heifetz, J. & Gharrett, A.J. Mar Biol (2011) 158: 779. doi:10.1007/s00227-010-1606-2
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Prevailing oceanographic processes, pelagic larvae, adult mobility, and large populations of many marine species often leads to the assumption of wide-ranging populations. Applying this assumption to more localized populations can lead to inappropriate conservation measures. The Pacific ocean perch (Sebastes alutus, POP) is economically and ecologically valuable, but little is known about its population structure and life history in Alaskan waters. Fourteen microsatellite loci were used to characterize geographic structure and connectivity of POP collections (1999–2005) sampled along the continental shelf break from Dixon Entrance to the Bering Sea. Despite opportunities for dispersal, there was significant, geographically related genetic structure (FST = 0.0123, P < 10−5). Adults appear to belong to neighborhoods at geographic scales less than 400 km, and possibly as small as 70 km, which indicates limited dispersal throughout their lives. The population structure observed has a finer geographic scale than current management, which suggests that measures for POP fisheries conservation should be revisited.