Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Overfishing may diminish genetic diversity even when millions of fish remain

04.11.2002


Populations of marine fish may lose genetic diversity even if fishing stops while there are still several million individuals – a number previously assumed to be enough to preserve a diverse gene pool.



Losing the diversity of key genes can render a population less productive and unable to adapt when faced with challenges such as global warming, pollution or changes in predators or prey. Rare genetic variation of little importance today might be the key to adaptability in the future, according to Lorenz Hauser, University of Washington assistant professor with the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences and lead author of a report recently published as part of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

It could be that genetic diversity in a population needs to be considered when determining sustainable harvests for marine fish – fish such as snappers, rockfish and cod that spend their entire lives in the ocean. For some animals studied by conservation biologists, such as pandas and elephants, as few as 500 individuals appear to be enough to maintain rare variances.


For reasons not yet understood, however, it appears that in marine fishes only a small proportion of individuals produce large numbers of offspring that survive. Therefore as a fish population declines the number of such capable breeders may reach levels that cannot sustain genetic diversity.

What Hauser and his co-authors found is that the number of capable breeders is several magnitudes smaller than they expected: In their work with a population of New Zealand snapper that was fished down to about 3 million, only one in 10,000 fish was a capable breeder. That means the genetic diversity for a population of a few million fish could be depending on as little as a few hundred fish.

If such low ratios are commonplace in marine species, many other kinds of marine fish stocks may be in danger of losing genetic variability, the paper says. Fish scales collected and archived at the New Zealand Ministry of Fisheries provided DNA from two isolated populations of New Zealand snappers for the research. The smaller population from Tasman Bay lost variations in six of seven gene markers as its numbers declined to 3 million while exploited between the 1950s and 1998. A larger population from Hauraki Gulf, composed of 37 million fish, showed no loss in variation between the 1950s and 1998. However, it had been fished since the late 1800s and by 1950 already had less genetic variation compared to the Tasman Bay population.

From a practical standpoint, fisheries managers are not going to be able to monitor genetic diversity for every stock, Hauser says. Instead, if scientists can learn which fish are the very successful breeders and why, then managers may be better able to predict the number of offspring produced and thus may be able to increase fishing when conditions are favorable for successful fish and decrease fishing when they aren’t.

Hauser was at the University of Hull, England, when the work was conducted in collaboration with Greg Adcock (now of the University of Melbourne), Julio Bernal Ramirez and Gary Carvalho, and their colleague Peter Smith of the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research, New Zealand. The study was funded by the Leverhulme Trust, England.


For more information:
Hauser, 206-685-3270, lhauser@u.washington.edu

"Loss of microsatellite diversity and low effective population size in an overexploited population of New Zealand snapper," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/99/18/11742


Sandra Hines | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.washington.edu/
http://www.pnas.org/cgi/content/abstract/99/18/11742

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Loss of habitat causes double damage to species richness
02.04.2019 | Deutsches Zentrum für integrative Biodiversitätsforschung (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig

nachricht Deep decarbonization of industry is possible with innovations
25.03.2019 | Fraunhofer-Institut für System- und Innovationsforschung (ISI)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

A stellar flare 10 times more powerful than anything seen on our sun has burst from an ultracool star almost the same size as Jupiter

  • Coolest and smallest star to produce a superflare found
  • Star is a tenth of the radius of our Sun
  • Researchers led by University of Warwick could only see...

Im Focus: Quantum simulation more stable than expected

A localization phenomenon boosts the accuracy of solving quantum many-body problems with quantum computers which are otherwise challenging for conventional computers. This brings such digital quantum simulation within reach on quantum devices available today.

Quantum computers promise to solve certain computational problems exponentially faster than any classical machine. “A particularly promising application is the...

Im Focus: Largest, fastest array of microscopic 'traffic cops' for optical communications

The technology could revolutionize how information travels through data centers and artificial intelligence networks

Engineers at the University of California, Berkeley have built a new photonic switch that can control the direction of light passing through optical fibers...

Im Focus: A long-distance relationship in femtoseconds

Physicists observe how electron-hole pairs drift apart at ultrafast speed, but still remain strongly bound.

Modern electronics relies on ultrafast charge motion on ever shorter length scales. Physicists from Regensburg and Gothenburg have now succeeded in resolving a...

Im Focus: Researchers 3D print metamaterials with novel optical properties

Engineers create novel optical devices, including a moth eye-inspired omnidirectional microwave antenna

A team of engineers at Tufts University has developed a series of 3D printed metamaterials with unique microwave or optical properties that go beyond what is...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

First dust conference in the Central Asian part of the earth’s dust belt

15.04.2019 | Event News

Fraunhofer FHR at the IEEE Radar Conference 2019 in Boston, USA

09.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

New automated biological-sample analysis systems to accelerate disease detection

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

Explosion on Jupiter-sized star 10 times more powerful than ever seen on our sun

18.04.2019 | Physics and Astronomy

New eDNA technology used to quickly assess coral reefs

18.04.2019 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>