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Humans have historically exploited fish species for consumption, economics, and recreation, with intensive commercial fishing as well as varying indirect anthropogenic stresses (i.e., eutrophication, habitat change, the proliferation of invasive species, etc.) having driven freshwater and marine fisheries on a global scale into sharp declines over recent decades. For future management practices to be successful will require the integration of sociopolitical, physical and organismal information into a holistic framework. However, knowledge concerning the basic biology of many fisheries-related species, such as their genetic structure, is lacking, thus hindering such efforts. In this context, The Santos Lab has been funded by the State of Hawaii Division of Aquatic Resources to examine the population connectivity and demography of two ecologically and economically important species, Caranx ignobilis (white ulua or ulua aukea) and C. melampygus (papio), in the Main Hawaiian Islands

The goal of the proposed research is to build on our recent genetic study of Caranx ignobilis and C. melampygus around the main Hawaiian Islands in conjunction with DAR personnel as part of their Ulua Tagging Project, a statewide, angler-based program where volunteers are asked to assist in the capture and tagging of various jack species found in Hawaiian waters. This new research will test the hypothesis that Caranx ignobilis and C. melampygus populations possess significant genetic structure between the high Hawaiian Islands and other sites around the Pacific Basin. In order to test this hypothesis, microsatellite loci, a category of genetic markers commonly employed in human forensics, are currently being developed for both species using Illumina sequencing of genomic DNA. Loci identification and primer design will be done via custom computational pipelines previously constructed at Auburn University by The Santos Lab. The extensive genomic data generated in this project will also prove useful in understanding how hybrids of Caranx ignobilis and C. melampygus (which can be ~10% of individuals in a population) might influence evolution among species in the genus. The collection of fin clips from individuals of both species (for DNA) are ongoing and include the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (Northwestern Hawaiian Islands), Guam, Fiji, and Christmas Island.

The National Center for Biotechnology Information's BioProject page for this research, containing all the raw Illumina data and BAM files, can be found here.

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