Marine and Freshwater Research Marine and Freshwater Research Society
Advances in the aquatic sciences
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Stock structure of Lethrinus laticaudis (Lethrinidae) across northern Australia determined using genetics, otolith microchemistry and parasite assemblage composition

Diane P. Barton A B J , Laura Taillebois B C , Jonathan Taylor A , David A. Crook B , Thor Saunders A B , Mark Hearnden A , Alan Greig D , David J. Welch E , Stephen J. Newman F , Michael J. Travers F , Richard J. Saunders G H , Chris Errity A , Safia Maher I , Christine Dudgeon I and Jennifer Ovenden I
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Department of Primary Industry and Resources, Northern Territory Government, Makagon Road, Berrimah, NT 0828, Australia.

B Research Institute for the Environment and Livelihoods, Charles Darwin University, Darwin, NT 0810, Australia

C North Australia Marine Research Alliance, Arafura Timor Research Facility, Darwin, NT 0810, Australia.

D School of Earth Sciences, The University of Melbourne, Vic. 3010, Australia.

E C2O Fisheries, Cairns, Qld 4870, Australia.

F Western Australian Fisheries and Marine Research Laboratories, Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development, Government of Western Australia, PO Box 20, North Beach, WA 6920, Australia.

G Centre for Sustainable Tropical Fisheries and Aquaculture, The Science Place, Building 142, 1 James Cook Drive, Townsville, Qld 4811 Australia.

H Animal Science, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, EcoSciences Precinct, Dutton Park, Qld 4102, Australia.

I Molecular Fisheries Laboratory, School of Biomedical Sciences, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia.

J Corresponding author. Email: di.barton@nt.gov.au

Marine and Freshwater Research 69(4) 487-501 https://doi.org/10.1071/MF17087
Submitted: 30 March 2017  Accepted: 13 October 2017   Published: 12 January 2018

Abstract

The grass emperor Lethrinus laticaudis is a conspicuous element of the commercial and recreational catch from nearshore reef systems across northern Australia. The nearshore reef systems across northern Australia are exposed to increasing levels of fishing pressure from commercial and recreational fishers. To inform ongoing management of this species, the present study examined the stock structure of L. laticaudis across northern Australia using a combination of complementary techniques. In all, 342 L. laticaudis samples were collected from 13 locations in the coastal waters of northern Australia ranging from the Pilbara region of Western Australia to Moreton Bay in south-east Queensland. Population genetic analyses using microsatellite markers demonstrated that there were at least four genetically distinct populations across northern Australia with gene flow between management jurisdictions (with significantly more separation between Western Australian and Northern Territory locations than between Northern Territory and Queensland locations). An isolation by distance effect was evident (genetic differences increasing linearly with distance). Otolith microchemistry and parasitology analyses indicated some spatial structuring of populations within broader regions. These findings of restricted connectivity at small spatial scales suggest that L. laticaudis is vulnerable to localised depletion in areas where fishing effort is concentrated. This conclusion is consistent with recent observations of fishery declines in heavily fished locations.


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