Philopatry to spawning grounds combined with well-known migratory patterns in the flatfish Pleuronectes platessa (plaice) has led to the hypothesis that regional populations may reflect relatively discrete, genetic stocks. Using six microsatellite loci we genotyped 240 adult individuals collected from locations in Norway, the Faeroe plateau, the Irish Sea, the Femer Baelt, Denmark, and the southern North Sea, and 240 0-class juveniles collected from five nursery-ground locations in Iceland, northwest Scotland, two sites in the Wadden Sea, and the Bay of Vilaine in Southern Brittany. The mean number of alleles/locus ranged from 5.3 to 20.4, with a mean of 13.9. Expected heterozygosity was uniformly high across all locations (multilocus Hexp = 0.744 ± 0.02). Pairwise comparisons of among all 11 locations revealed significant differentiation between Iceland and all other locations ( = 0.0290*** to 0.0456***), which is consistent with the deep-water barrier to dispersal in plaice. In contrast, no significant differentiation was found among any of the remaining continental-shelf sampling locations. This suggests that regional stocks are themselves composed of several genetic stocks under a model of panmixia which persists even to the spawning grounds. The presence of significant heterozygote deficiencies at all locations (not due to null alleles) suggests a temporal Wahlund effect yet the absence of significant population differentiation among continental shelf localities makes this explanation alone, difficult to reconcile. Sampling of eggs at the spawning grounds will be required to resolve this issue. Causes of the mismatch between genetic and geographical stocks is discussed in the context of high gene flow.
- genetic structure
- Pleuronectes platessa