Modern genomics has the potential to make valuable contributions to fisheries management. For example, it can help scientists detect when a species is divided into distinct populations—information needed to ensure that all populations can sustain themselves.
Dr. Gavin Naylor of the University of Florida will lead a project to apply modern genomic tools to better understand fish populations, using the thorny skate as a case study. Thorny skate is overfished in U.S. waters and has been considered for listing as an endangered species. Previous studies used traditional genetic analysis to conclude that it is a single population.
The project will assess that finding using modern techniques, which sequence more of the genome than is typical with traditional analysis. If the results show that there are multiple distinct populations, this information could help focus recovery efforts on populations that are in decline. Moreover, the study could serve as a template for genomic research to inform the management of many other species.