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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Inferring spatial structure from population genetics and spatial synchrony in demography of Baltic Sea fishes: implications for management

Östman, Örjan; Olsson, Jens; Dannewitz, Johan; Palm, Stefan; Florin, Ann-Britt

Abstract

The spatial structure of species is important for their dynamics and evolution, but also for management and conservation. There are numerous ways of inferring spatial structures, and information from multiple methods is becoming more common to examine how different processes shape the spatial structures of species to improve fish management. Here, we investigate the spatial structure of a suite of Baltic Sea fish species based on the following: (i) spatial (presumably neutral) genetic differentiation, reviewed from the literature, and (ii) spatial synchrony in abundance changes from time series of fishery-independent surveys, which we currently find to be underused given the amount of data available. For each of these two methods, species were classified as having a distinct, continuous or no/weak spatial structure. In addition, based on each source of information, we estimated the spatial scale of management units for species. The results show that only among species confined to the coastal zone the two sources of information yielded a congruence of the spatial structure (displaying a continuous spatial structure). In contrast, offshore species show weak spatial genetic structure but stronger spatial structure of synchrony in abundance. Based on this, we suggest that population genetic structure and synchrony in abundance should be used as complementary information as they reflect different spatial processes and suggest that management actions should differ with respect to scale depending on the management targets applied. We propose similar analysis should be applied to areas outside the Baltic Sea, and other stock identification methods, to improve management of fish resources.

Keywords

Baltic Sea; genetic markers; harvest; management units; Moran effect; spatial structures

Published in

Fish and Fisheries
2017, Volume: 18, number: 2, pages: 324-339