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Conservation of diversity in an exploited species: spatio-temporal variation in the genetics of herring (Clupea harengus) in the North Sea and adjacent areas *

Contract nr: QLRT-CT-2000-01370
Project type: RS (Research and Technological Development Project)
Starting date:
Duration: 36 months
Total cost: 2,711,143 EUR
EC Contribution: 1,553,000 EUR
Scientific Officer:
Research topic: 5.1.2. Sustainable fisheries and aquaculture

Abstract:
We will examine the metapopulation structure of herring from the North Sea to the western Baltic by screening 8 000 fish for variations in genetic, life history and otolith characteristics. 5 000 fish in spawning condition will be collected from at least 20 spawning locations (min 100 fish/sample) sampled over two consecutive years, to account for temporal variability. Six samples of 500 fish will be collected from mixed aggregations on two common feeding grounds over a period of two years. Microsatellites will be our main genetic tool and all samples will be screened at eight loci. We will also examine mtDNA, allozymes, and MHC genes. Phenotypic and otolith characterisation will assist in the delineation of spawning groups. Mixed stock analysis using genetic data will be applied to estimate populations' contributions to mixed samples, and the patterns of genetic variation in spawning and mixed samples will be related to oceanographic features.

Objectives:
The misidentification of population structure within stock complexes can lead to overexploitation by depleting spawning components, affecting intraspecific genetic diversity. This problem is exacerbated in stock complexes with demographically diverse components that intermingle seasonally, as is the case with Atlantic herring, the target species of the present study. Our project has six objectives:

1. to estimate the population genetic structure of herring spawning aggregations in the North Sea, Skagerrak/Kattegat, and western Baltic and west of Scotland;
2. to assess short-term (among cohorts ) and long-term (generations) temporal variation in this population structure;
3. to quantify the composition of mixed aggregations generally targeted by the fisheries in these areas;
4. to assess temporal variability in these contributions;
5. to incorporate findings into the management of herring stocks; and
6. to disseminate our results.


Coordinator
Gorm RASMUSSEN
DANISH INSTITUTE FOR FISHERIES RESEARCH
Silkeborg
DENMARK
Tel.: +45 89213122
Fax: +45 89213150
E-mail: gr@dfu.min.dk


Partners
  John DAVIES
THE SCOTTISH MINISTERS ACTING THROUGH FISHERIES RESEARCH SERVICES MARINE LABORATORY
Aberdeen
UNITED KINGDOM
Tel.: +44 1224876544
Fax: +44 1224295511
E-mail: daviesjm@marlab.ac.uk
  Hans ERSTAD
INSTITUTE OF MARINE RESEARCH
Bergen
NORWAY
Tel.: +47 55238518
Fax: +47 55238531
E-mail: hans.erstad@imr.no
  Margareta AHLQWIST
GOETEBORG UNIVERSITY
Stroemstad
SWEDEN
Tel.: +46 317735345
Fax: +46 317734355
E-mail: Margareta.Ahlqwist@adm.gu.se
  Peter ROBSON
UNIVERSITY OF HULL
Hull
UNITED KINGDOM
Tel.: +44 1482465390
Fax: +44 1482466808
E-mail: P.S.Robson@admin.hull.ac.uk
  Nils RYMAN
STOCKHOLM UNIVERSITY
Stockholm
SWEDEN
Tel.: +46 8164278
Fax: +46 8154041
E-mail: nils.ryman@popgen.su.se
  Baukje VRIESWIJK
WAGENINGEN UNIVERSITY
Wageningen
THE NETHERLANDS
Tel.: +31 317482260
Fax: +31 317483962
E-mail: baukje.vrieswijk@alg.sdw.wau.nl