Recruitment collapse and population structure of the European eel shaped by local ocean current dynamics.

Baltazar-Soares, Miguel , Biastoch, Arne , Harrod, C., Hanel, Reinhold, Marohn, Lasse, Prigge, Enno, Evans, D., Bodles, K., Behrens, Erik, Böning, Claus W. and Eizaguirre, Christophe (2014) Recruitment collapse and population structure of the European eel shaped by local ocean current dynamics. Open Access Current Biology, 24 (1). pp. 104-108. DOI 10.1016/j.cub.2013.11.031.

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Supplementary data:


• We combine high-resolution ocean models with population genetics
• Variation in wind-driven ocean currents mediates the collapse of A. anguilla
• Female eels are philopatric within the Sargasso Sea, while males maintain gene flow
• We present first evidence of the role of ocean currents in shaping species’ evolution

Worldwide, exploited marine fish stocks are under threat of collapse [1]. Although the drivers behind such collapses are diverse, it is becoming evident that failure to consider evolutionary processes in fisheries management can have drastic consequences on a species’ long-term viability [2]. The European eel (Anguilla anguilla; Linnaeus, 1758) is no exception: not only does the steep decline in recruitment observed in the 1980s [ 3 and 4] remain largely unexplained, the punctual detection of genetic structure also raises questions regarding the existence of a single panmictic population [ 5, 6 and 7]. With its extended Transatlantic dispersal, pinpointing the role of ocean dynamics is crucial to understand both the population structure and the widespread decline of this species. Hence, we combined dispersal simulations using a half century of high-resolution ocean model data with population genetics tools. We show that regional atmospherically driven ocean current variations in the Sargasso Sea were the major driver of the onset of the sharp decline in eel recruitment in the beginning of the 1980s. The simulations combined with genotyping of natural coastal eel populations furthermore suggest that unexpected evidence of coastal genetic differentiation is consistent with cryptic female philopatric behavior within the Sargasso Sea. Such results demonstrate the key constraint of the variable oceanic environment on the European eel population.

Document Type: Article
Additional Information: Elsevier Open Archive
Keywords: High resolution ocean models, Population genetics, Recruitment collapse, European eel
Research affiliation: OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB1 Ocean Circulation and Climate Dynamics > FB1-TM Theory and Modeling
OceanRep > GEOMAR > FB3 Marine Ecology > FB3-EV Marine Evolutionary Ecology
Refereed: Yes
Open Access Journal?: No
Publisher: Elsevier
Projects: Future Ocean
Date Deposited: 10 Dec 2013 09:54
Last Modified: 07 May 2021 08:00

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