Vieira, A.R., Rodrigues, A.S.B., Sequeira, V., Neves, A., Paiva, R.B., Paulo, O.S. & Gordo, L.S. (2016) Genetic and morphological variation of the forkbeard, Phycis phycis (Pisces, Phycidae): evidence of Panmixia and recent population expansion along Its distribution area.PLOS One, 11(12), e0167045. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0167045 (IF2015 3,057; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
The knowledge of population structure of a species is essential to effectively assess and manage fisheries. In the present study, genetics, by mitochondrial DNA cytochrome b sequence analysis, and body geometric morphometrics were used to evaluate the existence of distinct populations of the forkbeard (Phycis phycis), an important commercial species in several European countries, especially Portugal and Spain. For geometric morphometric analysis, specimens were collected in the Northeast Atlantic Ocean—Azores, Madeira and mainland Portugal, and for genetic analysis, these samples were complemented with samples collected in the Mediterranean Sea—Spain, Italy and Croatia, in order to cover the entire distribution area of the species. Body shape of the forkbeard from the Northeast Atlantic was found to be highly variable. This variation was probably associated with different environmental factors between the study areas. Despite morphological variation, a low genetic differentiation between samples from different areas was found, most likely due to gene flow that occurred in the past or with the demographic history of the species. Moreover, the presence of unique haplotypes in the Northeast Atlantic and in the Mediterranean suggests that recent gene flow between populations from these areas should be limited. Altogether, a high haplotype diversity, a low nucleotide diversity, a “star-like” network and the results of the mismatch distribution, indicate a possible signature of recent population expansions, which probably started during the end of the Last Glacial Maximum and led to the colonization of the Northeast Atlantic and the Mediterranean.