Unravelling population connectivity for sustainable fisheries in the Deep Sea

Over-exploitation of traditional coastal stocks has resulted in the shift of commercial harvesting towards less-known, deep-sea living resources in many parts of the world. Most of these "new" fisheries are now proving to be unsustainable. A key to our ability to manage these fisheries and protect ecosystems, is the understanding of the underlying demographic and life-history characteristics of deep sea species, including their migratory behavior and spatial population structure. In this project, we will apply the most modern methodologies for a multidisciplinary approach to unravel population structure and population connectivity in in economically important deep-sea fishes. Specifically, we will apply microsatellite DNA, mtDNA and nuclear DNA sequence polymorphisms, and otolith microchemistry to detect population structure. Information on genetic differentiation and otolith microchemical parameters will be integrated with bathymetric data, life-history traits, and oceanographic models of ocean currents within a common statistical framework. Both GAM models and landscape genetic tools will be applied to unravel mechanisms for population connectivity, such as passive larval drift and active migration. On the basis of this mix of proven technologies and new approaches, we will acquire new fundamental biological knowledge that will be put forward for developing scientifically sound management plans for one of the world's most valuable ecosystem.

Project Leader:

    Professor Nils Christian Stenseth
    University of Oslo, Norway

Principal Investigators:

    Dr Halvor Knutsen
    Institute of Marine Research, His, Norway

    Dr Stefano Mariani
    University College Dublin, Ireland

    Dr Sergio Stefanni
    University of the Azores, Portugal

Associated Partner:

    Dr Francis Neat
    Fisheries Research Services, Aberdeen, UK