The concept of a stock of fish as a management unit has been around for well over a hundred years, and this has formed the basis for fisheries science. Methods for delimiting stocks have advanced considerably over recent years, including genetic, telemetric, tagging, geochemical and phenotypic information. In parallel with these developments, concepts in population ecology such as meta-population dynamics and connectivity have advanced. The pragmatic view of stocks has always accepted some mixing during spawning, feeding and/or larval drift. Here we consider the mismatch between ecological connectivity of a matrix of populations typically focussed on demographic measurements, and genetic connectivity of populations that focus on genetic exchange detected using modern molecular approaches. We suggest that from an ecological-connectivity perspective populations can be delimited as management units if there is limited exchange during recruitment or via migration in most years. From a genetic-connectivity perspective such limited exchange can maintain panmixia. We use case-studies of species endangered by overexploitation and/or habitat degradation to show how current methods of stock delimitation can help in managing populations and in conservation.
- Marine stock assessment
- Molecular markers
- Ecological connectivity
Hawkins, S. J., Bohn, K., Sims, D. W., Ribeiro, P., Faria, J., Presa, P., Pita, A., Martins, G. M., Neto, A. I., Burrows, M. T., & Genner, M. J. (2016). Fisheries stocks from an ecological perspective: Disentangling ecological connectivity from genetic interchange. Fisheries Research, 179, 333-341. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fishres.2016.01.015