Population Genetics of the Red Rock Lobster, Jasus edwardsii
Understanding patterns of gene flow across a species range is a vital component of an effective fisheries management strategy. The advent of highly polymorphic microsatellite markers has facilitated the detection of fine-scale patterns of genetic differentiation at levels below the resolving power of earlier techniques. This has triggered the wide-spread re-examination of population structure for a number of commercially targeted species. The aims of thesis were to re-investigate patterns of gene flow of the red rock lobster Jasus edwardsii throughout New Zealand and across the Tasman Sea using novel microsatellite markers. Jasus edwardsii is a keystone species of subtidal rocky reef system and supports lucrative export markets in both Australia and New Zealand. Eight highly polymorphic microsatellite markers were developed from 454 sequence data and screened across a Wellington south coast population to obtain basic diversity indices. All loci were polymorphic with the number of alleles per locus ranging from 6-39. Observed and expected heterozygosity ranged from 0.563-0.937 and 0.583-0.961, respectively. There were no significant deviations from Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium following standard Bonferroni corrections. The loci were used in a population analysis of J. edwardsii that spanned 10 degrees of latitude and stretched 3,500 km across the South Pacific. The analysis rejected the null-hypothesis of panmixia based on earlier mDNA analysis and revealed significant population structure (FST=0.011, RST=0.028) at a wide range of scales. Stewart Island was determined to have the highest levels of genetic differentiation of all populations sampled suggesting a high degree of reproductive isolation and self-recruitment. This study also identified high levels of asymmetric gene flow from Australia to New Zealand indicating a historical source-sink relationship between the two countries. Results from the genetic analysis were consistent with results from oceanographic dispersal models and it is likely that the genetic results reflect historical and contemporary patterns of Jasus edwardsii dispersal and recruitment throughout its range.