External Organisations

  • Northwest Jutland Recreational Fishermen’s Association, Denmark

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Knowledge about population structure and local adaptation is central for successful management of both freshwater and marine fisheries. For instance, recently accumulated knowledge about the geographical scale and extent of local adaptation in anadromous fishes has resulted in the abandonment of fish transplants and releases of foreign fish into natural populations, because such activities threaten the survival of natural populations. In coastal habitats, local fishermen have expressed interests in moving marine fish between geographically distant areas, but until now a lack of scientific knowledge about the scale and extent of local adaptation has prevented any detailed advice on the scale that such movements may be possible. In one particular case, it has been proposed to move European flounder from the western parts of the Limfjord to the Bay of Aarhus in order to support a fishery in the bay where the species has recently reached very low abundances. Since these two areas are both geographically distant and environmentally different, it is possible that fish are also adapted to local environmental conditions. However, although earlier work has strongly suggested that populations of European flounder may be locally adapted, no study has directly compared samples from these areas.

In this project, we aim to use a combination of genetic markers previously found not to be affected by selection (so-called “neutral markers”) and newly developed markers situated in or close to genes which may be important for local adaption. The application of such a combination of genetic markers may allow the assessment of geographical patterns and scales of both population structure and local adaptation in natural populations. The first stage of the project will consist of the development of new genetic markers by screening candidate genes, identified as differentially expressed in relation to various stressors in laboratory experiments, for the presence of suitable genetic markers. Once identified, these markers will be tested, and individuals collected from the target as well as reference populations in 2011 will be screened for genetic variation. Subsequently, geographical patterns of genetic divergence will be compared between putatively “neutral” markers and the newly developed candidate gene associated markers. Finally, results will be compared to results obtained with samples collected in 2003/2004 in order to assess temporal stability. Results from the study are expected to be important for providing advice in this specific case study. In addition, results could be important for guiding future research on finer geographical scales in this and other marine fishes.

The project is coordinated by DTU Aqua.


  • Research area: Population Genetics
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ID: 2287366