Do hatchery-reared sea urchins pose a threat to genetic diversity in wild populations? | EMBRC

Do hatchery-reared sea urchins pose a threat to genetic diversity in wild populations?

2016.04.28

Do hatchery-reared sea urchins pose a threat to genetic diversity in wild populations?

In salmonids, the release of hatchery-reared fish has been shown to cause irreversible genetic impacts on wild populations. However, although responsible practices for producing and releasing genetically diverse, hatchery-reared juveniles have been published widely, they are rarely implemented. Here, we investigated genetic differences between wild and early-generation hatchery-reared populations of the purple sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus (a commercially important species in Europe) to assess whether hatcheries were able to maintain natural levels of genetic diversity. To test the hypothesis that hatchery rearing would cause bottleneck effects (that is, a substantial reduction in genetic diversity and differentiation from wild populations), we compared the levels and patterns of genetic variation between two hatcheries and four nearby wild populations, using samples from both Spain and Ireland. We found that hatchery-reared populations were less diverse and had diverged significantly from the wild populations, with a very small effective population size and a high degree of relatedness between individuals. These results raise a number of concerns about the genetic impacts of their release into wild populations, particularly when such a degree of differentiation can occur in a single generation of hatchery rearing. Consequently, we suggest that caution should be taken when using hatchery-reared individuals to augment fisheries, even for marine species with high dispersal capacity, and we provide some recommendations to improve hatchery rearing and release practices. Our results further highlight the need to consider the genetic risks of releasing hatchery-reared juveniles into the wild during the establishment of restocking, stock enhancement and sea ranching programs.

Marta , Evangelista | CCMAR - Centre of Marine Sciences/University of Algarve

Website developed and maintained by Flanders Marine Institute (VLIZ) | Privacy Policy