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Innovative study by Dalhousie researcher identifies genetic differences between spring and autumn spawning populations in the Northwest Atlantic

Posted by Media Centre on April 10, 2017 in News

Researchers from Dalhousie University and Uppsala University in Sweden have collaborated on a new study identifying genetic differences between spring and fall spawning herring in the Northwest Atlantic. The study, recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has important practical implications for the herring fishery.

In recent years the relative abundance of spring and fall spawning herring has changed – likely in response to changing climate and ocean temperatures and these finding implies that the loss of anyone of these seasonal spawning components would lead to loss of genetic diversity. By providing genetic markers that distinguish spring and autumn spawning herring outside the breeding season, a more sustainable fishery can be developed by optimizing fishing among stocks according to their abundance.

The study is part of a collaboration between Dr. Daniel Ruzzante, a professor in Dalhousie University’s Department of Biology, and his colleague Professor Leif Andersson from Uppsala University in Sweden, and their respective PhD students, Angela Fuentes-Pardo (Dalhousie) and Sangeet Lamichhaney (Uppsala). By comparing samples from both sides of the Atlantic they discovered parallel genetic differences between spring and fall spawning herring across the Ocean.

Dr. Ruzzante’s work is already of interest to Fisheries and Oceans Canada, which is the collaborating institution responsible for the management of the herring fishery in Canada and provided some of the samples in this study.


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