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Spatio-temporal population genetic structure and mating system of red king crab (Paralithodes camtschaticus) in Alaska

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Red king crab, Paralithodes camtschaticus Tilesius, 1815, an economically and culturally important species in the state of Alaska, experienced drastic reductions in abundance over large portions of their Alaskan range by 1980. Abundance of crabs in some of the most important historical fishing areas have failed to rebound, some even in the absence of fishing, highlighting the need for additional research to infer genetic structure and reproductive biology of the species that can then be used to inform management efforts. Red king crab samples were collected from eleven locations throughout Alaska ( n = 845 ), of these, six locations were sampled at least one generation apart. Results of this study suggest moderate rates of gene flow within the Gulf of Alaska/Western Alaska region. Levels of genetic differentiation among populations within Southeast Alaska were higher than seen elsewhere, and there was strong evidence of multiple distinct populations. Red king crab in Bristol Bay and in two areas in Southeast Alaska show signs of recent population bottlenecks and shifts in allele frequencies not observed in previous studies that used less polymorphic genetic markers. In addition to population genetic structure analyses, 24 female red king crab and their broods were collected for purposes of inferring mating system. There was no evidence of multiple paternity in any brood. The results of this study support continued management of distinct geographic groups within the Gulf of Alaska/Western Alaska region and suggest that finer-scale management may be beneficial in Southeast Alaska.

Affiliations: 1: 1Juneau Center, School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks, 17101 Pt. Lena Loop Road, Juneau, AK 99801, USA; 2: 2University of Alaska Southeast, 11120 Glacier Hwy, Juneau, AK 99801, USA; 3: 3Auke Bay Laboratories, AFSC/NMFS/NOAA, 17109 Pt. Lena Loop Road, Juneau, AK 99801, USA


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