CIE Spotlight: Contrasting patterns of population connectivity between regions in a commercially important mollusc Haliotis rubra: integrating population genetics, genomics and marine LiDAR data

Adam M. and Daniel I.

Adam M. and Daniel I.

Authors: Miller, A. D.; van Rooyen, A.; Rasic, G.; Ierodiaconou, D. A.; Gorfine, H. K.; Day, R.; Wong, C.; Hoffmann, A. A.; Weeks, A. R.

Source: MOLECULAR ECOLOGY, 25 (16):3845-3864, AUG 2016

Brief summary of the paper: Estimating contemporary genetic structure and population connectivity in marine species is challenging, often compromised by genetic markers that lack adequate sensitivity, and unstructured sampling regimes. We show how these limitations can be overcome via the integration of modern genotyping methods and sampling designs guided by LiDAR and SONAR data sets.

Here we explore patterns of gene flow and local genetic structure in a commercially harvested abalone species (Haliotis rubra) from southeastern Australia, where the viability of fishing stocks is believed to be dictated by recruitment from local sources. Using a panel of microsatellite and genomewide SNP markers, we compare allele frequencies across a replicated hierarchical sampling area guided by bathymetric LiDAR imagery. Results indicate high levels of gene flow and no significant genetic structure within or between benthic reef habitats across 1400 km of coastline.

These findings differ to those reported for other regions of the fishery indicating that larval supply is likely to be spatially variable, with implications for management and long-term recovery from stock depletion.

The study highlights the utility of suitably designed genetic markers and spatially informed sampling strategies for gaining insights into recruitment patterns in benthic marine species, assisting in conservation planning and sustainable management of fisheries.