Historical DNA documents long-distance natal homing in marine fish

Sara Bonanomi, Nina Overgaard Therkildsen, Anja Retzel, Rasmus Berg Hedeholm, Martin Wæver Pedersen, Dorte Meldrup, Christophe Pampoulie, Jakob Hemmer-Hansen, Peter Grønkjær, Einar Eg Nielsen


The occurrence of natal homing in marine fish remains a fundamental question in fish ecology as its unequivocal demonstration requires tracking of individuals from fertilization to reproduction. Here, we provide evidence of long-distance natal homing (>1000 km) over more than 60 years in Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua), through genetic analysis of archived samples from marked and recaptured individuals. Using a high differentiation single-nucleotide polymorphism assay, we demonstrate that the vast majority of cod tagged in West Greenland and recaptured on Icelandic spawning grounds belonged to the Iceland offshore population, strongly supporting a hypothesis of homing. The high degree of natal fidelity observed provides the evolutionary settings for development of locally adapted populations in marine fish and emphasize the need to consider portfolio effects in marine fisheries management strategies.


Published 14 March, 2016 in Molecular Ecology

DOI: 10.1111/mec.13580

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Tags: tagging data, natal homing, marine fish, historical DNA
Published Mar. 18, 2016 3:54 PM - Last modified Mar. 18, 2016 3:54 PM