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Researchers study blue king crab genetic population structure

Jennifer Stoutamore collects blue king crab genetic samples.

Jennifer Stoutamore collects blue king crab genetic samples.

PHOTO: Courtesy of J. Stoutamore

Fisheries graduate student Jennifer Stoutamore (University of Alaska Fairbanks, Juneau Center) and advisor Dr. David Tallmon (University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau) are studying genetic population structure of blue king crab throughout its range in Alaskan and Russian waters in a project funded by Alaska Sea Grant. They collected samples from southeast Alaska, the Pribilof Islands, St. Matthew Island, Little Diomede, and Russia (the western Bering Sea, Sea of Okhotsk, Chaunskaya Bay) and are currently examining genetic markers to identify relatedness of the different populations.

Population genetics can be used to improve management strategies or aid in recovery efforts by identifying genetically distinct populations. For example, determining the size and location of distinct populations, how much exchange occurs among populations, and how many individuals contribute genetically to different regions are critical for assessing potential consequences of stock enhancement. Acquiring this knowledge will aid regulatory agencies and policy-makers in evaluating the need and consequences for rehabilitation of depressed blue king crab stocks through large-scale hatchery releases.

News Flash is edited by Ben Daly. AKCRRAB is a research and rehabilitation project sponsored by the Alaska Sea Grant College Program, UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, NOAA Fisheries, the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, community groups, and industry members. For more information go to http://seagrant.uaf.edu/research/projects/initiatives/king_crab/general.

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