Conservation of diversity in an exploited species: Spatio-temporal variation in the genetics of herring (Clupea harengus) in the North Sea and adjacent areas (HERGEN) (5512)

Project Details


The project aims to determine the degree to which the different spawning populations of Atlantic herring in the North Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat, Western Baltic and West of Scotland can be distinguished genetically.

Microsatellite markers will be the main molecular tool employed though allozyme and mtDNA analyses, which will be conducted on subsets of samples for comparison with previous results.

Genes of the Major Histocompatibility Complex which are known to be under selection will be used to examine selective genetic differentiation among populations.

Otolith microstructure will be used to assist in the delineation of spawning components. Using Mixed Stock Analysis (MSA) we will quantify the proportions (and confidence intervals) of fish from the various regional spawning components, that contribute to mixed aggregations found on common feeding grounds in areas targeted by major fisheries in the North Sea and the Skagerrak/Kattegat.

We will examine seasonal and annual variations in stock contributions to mixed fisheries by comparing contribution estimates from repeat samples in both regions.

The most appropriate management units and data collection requirements to monitor selected populations will be recommended, taking into account genetic diversity and practical management issues. The data collection requirements to support management needs will be determined, and the most appropriate methods recommended based on a cost benefit analysis. Furthermore, the potential of mixed stock analysis in the management and conservation of herring will be examined.

Project website:

Research area: Population Genetics
Effective start/end date01/01/200231/12/2005

Collaborative partners

  • Technical University of Denmark (lead)
  • Stockholm University (Project partner)
  • Wageningen University & Research (Project partner)
  • University of Hull (Project partner)
  • Institute of Marine Research (Project partner)
  • University of Gothenburg (Project partner)
  • Marine Laboratory (Project partner)


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