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Evol Appl. 2012 Dec;5(8):820-37. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-4571.2012.00260.x.

Incorporating deep and shallow components of genetic structure into the management of Alaskan red king crab.

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  • 1Commercial Fisheries Division, Alaska Department of Fish and Game 333 Raspberry Road, Anchorage, AK, USA ; Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage Anchorage, AK, USA.


Observed patterns of genetic variability among marine populations are shaped not only by contemporary levels of gene flow, but also by divergences during historical isolations. We examined variability at 15 SNP loci and in mtDNA sequences (COI, 665 bp) in red king crab from 17 localities in the North Pacific. These markers define three geographically distinct evolutionary lineages (SNPs, F(CT) = 0.054; mtDNA Φ(CT) = 0.222): (i) Okhotsk Sea-Norton Sound-Aleutian Islands, (ii) southeastern Bering Sea-western Gulf of Alaska, and (iii) Southeast Alaska. Populations in the Bering Sea and in Southeast Alaska are genetically heterogeneous, but populations in the center of the range are homogeneous. Mitochondrial DNA diversity drops from h = 0.91 in the northwestern Pacific to h = 0.24 in the Southeast Alaska. Bayesian skyline plots (BSPs) indicate postglacial population expansions, presumably from ice-age refugia. BSPs of sequences simulated under a demographic model defined by late Pleistocene temperatures failed to detect demographic variability before the last glacial maximum. These results sound a note of caution for the interpretation of BSPs. Population fragmentation in the Bering Sea and in Southeast Alaskan waters requires population management on a small geographic scale, and deep evolutionary partitions between the three geographic groups mandate regional conservation measures.


Bering Sea; Paralithodes camtschaticus; genetic population structure; marine crustacean; mitochondrial DNA; northeastern Pacific; phylogeography; single nucleotide polymorphisms

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