Genetic structure and dispersal capabilities of dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) in the western central Atlantic


Merten, Wessley B., Nikolaos V. Schizas, Matthew T. Craig, Richard S. Appeldoorn, and Donald L. Hammond
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The dolphinfish (Coryphaena hippurus) is of major recreational and commercial importance, and landings have increased in recent years around Puerto Rico, throughout the Caribbean Sea, and along the U.S. East Coast, yet its genetic structure among these localities is uncertain. A portion of the mitochondrial nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) dehydrogenase subunit 1 (ND1; 1288 base pairs) gene was used at 2 spatial scales to investigate the population structure of dolphinfish. In a comparison of 183 specimens of dolphinfish between the northern and southern coasts of Puerto Rico over 4 consecutive years (2010–2013), no genetic differentiation was detected (ΦST= −0.002, P=0.640). On a broader scale, patterns of genetic variation of ND1 were compared for samples collected throughout the western central Atlantic from Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina (southeastern United States; N=90); Puerto Rico (northeastern Caribbean Sea; N=183); Barbados, Dominica, and Trinidad and Tobago (eastern Caribbean Sea; N=43); and the central North Atlantic in the Azores Islands (N=8), and 199 haplotypes were identified from all of the regions combined. Analysis of all samples (N=324) revealed shallow genetic structure (ΦST=0.009, P=0.023), but pairwise regional comparisons did not, indicating low population differentiation of dolphinfish throughout the western central Atlantic.