Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 7, pp 1509–1525 | Cite as

Population structure and connectivity of the European conger eel (Conger conger) across the north-eastern Atlantic and western Mediterranean: integrating molecular and otolith elemental approaches

  • Alberto T. Correia
  • Ana A. Ramos
  • Filipe Barros
  • Gonçalo Silva
  • Paul Hamer
  • Pedro Morais
  • Regina L. Cunha
  • Rita Castilho
Original Paper


Genetic variation (mtDNA) of the European conger eel, Conger conger, was compared across five locations in the north-eastern Atlantic (Madeira, Azores, South Portugal, North Portugal and Ireland) and one location in the western Mediterranean (Mallorca). Genetic diversity of conger eel was high, and differentiation among regions was not significant. Additionally, comparisons of element:Ca ratios (Sr:Ca, Ba:Ca, Mn:Ca and Mg:Ca) in otolith cores (larval phase) and edges (3 months prior to capture) among the Azores, North Portugal, Madeira and Mallorca regions for 2 years indicated that variation among regions were greater for edges than cores. Therefore, while benthic conger may display residency at regional scales, recruitment may not necessarily be derived from local spawning and larval retention. Furthermore, data from otoliths suggest a separated replenishment source for western Mediterranean and NE Atlantic stocks. The combination of genetics and otolith chemistry suggests a population model for conger eel involving a broad-scale dispersal of larvae, with limited connectivity for benthic juvenile life stages at large spatial scales, although the existence of one or multiple spawning grounds for the species remains uncertain.


Last Glacial Maximum Mismatch Distribution Mitochondrial Control Region Pelagic Larval Duration NIST Standard Reference Material 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Francis Neat (Marine Scotland—Science; Scottish Government; Marine Laboratory, Aberdeen), Eduardo Isidro (Departamento de Oceanografia e Pescas da Universidade dos Açores) and João Delgado (Secretaria Regional das Pescas da Região Autónoma da Madeira) for providing the biological samples in Ireland, Azores and Madeira, respectively. Stewart Grant was most helpful in an early edition of the manuscript. This work was fully supported by the Portuguese Science Foundation and Technology (POCI/MAR/58837/2004 and PPCDT/MAR/58837/2004).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alberto T. Correia
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ana A. Ramos
    • 3
  • Filipe Barros
    • 1
  • Gonçalo Silva
    • 3
  • Paul Hamer
    • 4
  • Pedro Morais
    • 1
    • 5
  • Regina L. Cunha
    • 3
  • Rita Castilho
    • 3
  1. 1.Centro Interdisciplinar de Investigação Marinha e Ambiental, CIIMAR-CIMAR Laboratório AssociadoPortoPortugal
  2. 2.Faculdade de Ciências da Saúde (FCS)Centro Interdisciplinar de Alterações Globais e Bioengenharia (CIAGEB), Universidade Fernando Pessoa (UFP)PortoPortugal
  3. 3.CCMAR-CIMAR Laboratório AssociadoCentro de Ciências do Mar, Universidade do AlgarveFaroPortugal
  4. 4.Department of Primary IndustriesFisheries Research BranchQueenscliffAustralia
  5. 5.International Centre for Coastal EcohydrologyFaroPortugal

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