Bay-scale population structure in coastal Atlantic cod in Labrador and Newfoundland, Canada

D.E. Ruzzante, J.S. Wroblewski, C.T. Taggart, R.K. Smedbol, D. Cook, S.V. Goddard

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Polymorphisms at five microsatellite DNA loci provide evidence that Atlantic cod Gadus morhua inhabiting Gilbert Bay, Labrador are genetically distinguishable from offshore cod on the north- east Newfoundland shelf and from inshore cod in Trinity Bay, Newfoundland. Antifreeze activity in the blood suggests that Gilbert Bay cod overwinter within the Bay. Gilbert Bay cod are also smaller (weight and length) for their age and consequently less fecund for their age, than cod elsewhere within the northern cod complex. The productivity and recruitment potential of coastal cod off Labrador may thus be much lower than that of offshore northern cod or of inshore cod farther south, implying that a more conservative management strategy may be required for cod from coastal Labrador than traditionally practised for northern cod inhabiting less harsh environments. Relatively high F-ST and R-ST measures of population structure suggest that important barriers to gene flow exist among five components that include two inshore (Gilbert and Trinity Bay) and three offshore cod aggregations on the north-east Newfoundland Shelf and the Grand Bank. D-A and D-SW estimates of genetic distance that involve Gilbert Bay cod are approximately three- and 10-fold larger, respectively, than estimates not involving Gilbert Bay cod. The differences between inshore cod from Gilbert Bay and Trinity Bay raise the possibility that other genetically distinguishable coastal populations may exist, or may have existed prior to the northern cod fishery collapse. Harvesting strategies for northern cod should recognize the existence of genetic diversity between inshore and offshore components as well as among coastal components. (C) 2000 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)431-447
Publication statusPublished - 2000


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