|Title||Reduced Global Genetic Differentiation of Exploited Marine Fish Species|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Authors||Gandra, M, Assis, J, Martins, MR, Abecasis, D|
|Year of Publication||2020|
|Journal||Molecular Biology and Evolution|
Knowledge on genetic structure is key to understand species connectivity patterns and to define the spatiotemporal scales over which conservation management plans should be designed and implemented. The distribution of genetic diversity (within and among populations) greatly influences species ability to cope and adapt to environmental changes, ultimately determining their long-term resilience to ecological disturbances. Yet, the drivers shaping connectivity and structure in marine fish populations remain elusive, as are the effects of fishing activities on genetic subdivision. To investigate these questions, we conducted a meta-analysis and compiled genetic differentiation data (FST/ΦST estimates) for more than 170 fish species from over 200 published studies globally distributed. We modeled the effects of multiple life-history traits, distance metrics, and methodological factors on observed population differentiation indices and specifically tested whether any signal arising from different exposure to fishing exploitation could be detected. Although the myriad of variables shaping genetic structure makes it challenging to isolate the influence of single drivers, results showed a significant correlation between commercial importance and genetic structure, with widespread lower population differentiation in commercially exploited species. Moreover, models indicate that variables commonly used as proxy for connectivity, such as larval pelagic duration, might be insufficient, and suggest that deep-sea species may disperse further. Overall, these results contribute to the growing body of knowledge on marine genetic connectivity and suggest a potential effect of commercial fisheries on the homogenization of genetic diversity, highlighting the need for additional research focused on dispersal ecology to ensure long-term sustainability of exploited marine species.