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Study shows drifting fish larvae allow marine reserves to rebuild fisheries
Date:12/22/2010

are not migratory, and live in a home range about half a mile in diameter. If the fish are going to move any significant distance from where they are born, it would have to be as a larva a young life form about the size of a grain of rice drifting with the currents for up to two months before settling back to adult habitats.

Mark Christie, an OSU postdoctoral research associate and lead author of the study, developed some new approaches to the use of DNA fingerprinting and sophisticated statistical analysis that were able to match juvenile fish with their parents, wherever they may have been from. In field research from 2006, the scientists performed genetic and statistical analyses on 1,073 juvenile and adult fish, and found evidence that many healthy juvenile fish had spawned from parents long distances away, up to 114 miles, including some from marine protected areas.

"This is similar to the type of forensic technology you might see on television, but more advanced," Christie said. "We're optimistic it will help us learn a great deal more about fish movements, fishery stocks, and the genetic effects of fishing, including work with steelhead, salmon, rockfish and other species here in the Pacific Northwest."

This study should help answer some of the questions about the ability of marine reserves to help rebuild fisheries, the scientists said. It should also add scientific precision to the siting of reserves for that purpose, which is just one of many roles that a marine reserve can play. Many states are establishing marine reserves off their coasts, and Oregon is in the process of developing a limited network of marine reserves to test their effectiveness. The methods used in this study could also become a powerful new tool to improve fisheries management, Hixon said.

"Tracking the movement of fish larvae in the open ocean isn't the easiest thing in the world to do," Hixon said. "It's not like putting a radio collar on a dee
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Contact: Mark Hixon
hixonm@science.oregonstate.edu
541-737-5364
Oregon State University
Source:Eurekalert  

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