Document Type



Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Publication Date



Fishery Bulletin





First Page


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Atlantic menhaden (Brevoortia tyrannus), through landings, support one of the largest commercial fisheries in the United States. Recent consolidation of the once coast-wide reduction fishery to waters within and around Chesapeake Bay has raised concerns over the possibility of the loss of unique genetic variation resulting from concentrated fishing pressure. To address this question, we surveyed variation at the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) gene region and seven nuclear microsatellite loci to evaluate stock structure of Atlantic menhaden. Samples were collected from up to three cohorts of Atlantic menhaden at four geographic locations along the U.S. Atlantic coast in 2006 and 2007, and from the closely related Gulf menhaden (B. patronus) in the Gulf of Mexico. Genetic divergence between Atlantic menhaden and Gulf menhaden, based on the COI gene region sequences and microsatellite loci, was more characteristic of conspecific populations than separate species. Hierarchical analyses of molecular variance indicated a homogeneous distribution of genetic variation within Atlantic menhaden. No significant variation was found between young-of-the-year menhaden (YOY) collected early and late in the season within Chesapeake Bay, between young-of-the-year and yearling menhaden collected in the Chesapeake Bay during the same year, between YOY and yearling menhaden taken in Chesapeake Bay in successive years, or among combined YOY and yearling Atlantic menhaden collected in both years from the four geographic locations. The genetic connectivity between the regional collections indicates that the concentration of fishing pressure in and around Chesapeake Bay will not result in a significant loss of unique genetic variation.


Herring Clupea-Harengus; Polymorphic Microsatellites; Tag Returns; Dna; Differentiation; Loci; Fish; Software; Patterns; Allozyme