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Was A.,Polish National Marine Fisheries Research Institute | Gosling E.,Mayo Institute of Technology, Galway | Hoarau G.,University of Groningen | Hoarau G.,Marine Ecology Research Group
Marine Biology | Year: 2010

Many species of marine fish are typified by large population sizes, strong migratory behavior, high fecundity, and pelagic eggs and larvae that are passively transported by ocean currents, all features that tend to increase gene flow, and hence reduce genetic partitioning, among localized populations. The plaice, Pleuronectes platessa, is a commercially important demersal species that exhibits all of these characteristics. We analyzed genetic variation at eight microsatellite loci in samples of spawning adults (N = 348) from the coasts of Ireland, Iceland, and, for the first time, from the Baltic Sea. Significant differentiation was observed between Iceland and Irish and Baltic Sea samples. However, there were no genetic differences between Irish and Baltic Sea samples, which contrast with the significant differentiation reported between Baltic Sea and North Sea/Atlantic populations of other flatfish species. To increase the data set, we carried out a cross-calibration exercise, allowing us to perform a joint analysis of data with an earlier study on adult and juvenile plaice (N = 480) collected over a broad geographic range, using six microsatellite loci in common to the two studies. Significant differentiation was observed between fish collected at the northern (Iceland, Faeroes, Norway) and southern (Bay of Biscay) parts of the species range. In contrast, the results showed little evidence of genetic structuring over much of the continental shelf of Europe. We believe that bathymetric and hydrographic barriers are the major factors shaping genetic structure, while lack of structure over much of the European continental shelf may be explained by a combination of past historical events, population structure, and dynamics of the species. © Springer-Verlag 2009.

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