Genetic Variation of Gray Triggerfish in US Waters of the Gulf of Mexico and Western Atlantic Ocean as Inferred from Mitochondrial DNA Sequences

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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


Gray triggerfish Balistes capriscus is a reef fish exploited by recreational and commercial fisheries in the southeastern United States. Recent stock assessments indicated that the species is over-fished, and a rebuilding plan is in progress. The U. S. fishery is currently managed as a single stock owing to the absence of reliable information on stock structure. We sequenced a 617-base-pair fragment of the ND4 mitochondrial gene in a total of 150 specimens from five localities (South Texas, Louisiana, West Florida, southeastern Florida, and South Carolina) encompassing the exploited range of the species in the USA. Analysis of molecular variance, spatial analysis of molecular variance, and spatial autocorrelation analysis did not reveal significant spatial heterogeneity in haplotype distributions within the studied range. Significant departure from neutrality was inferred from neutrality tests and may reflect the signature of a rapid population expansion following the recent glacial epochs, an inference that was supported by the results of Bayesian coalescent analysis. While the present results are consistent with management of the species as a single stock, development of additional genetic markers is needed to increase the resolution in genetic analyses and evaluate fine-scale genetic stock structure in the region.

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North American Journal of Fisheries Management





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