Population structure in the pan-oceanic wreckfish, Polyprion americanus (Teleostei: Polyprionidae), as indicated by mtDNA variation



The wreckfish Polyprion americanus, a large [>1 m total length (LT)] demersal teleost, is distributed globally in temperate waters, including both sides of the North and South Atlantic Oceans, the Mediterranean, the western South Pacific, and the southern Indian Ocean. Wreckfish spawn off the south-eastern U.S. on an area of the Blake Plateau (the Charleston Bump) characterized by an extensive ridge having approximately 100 m relief, in 450–600 m depths. Juvenile wreckfish (<60 cm LT) are pelagic and, in the North Atlantic, are not reported from the Blake Plateau fishing area, but occur in by-catch and fishery landings in the eastern Atlantic. Analysis of nine restriction fragment length profiles from a PCR-amplified fragment (∼1.5 kb) of the ND1 mitochondrial gene indicated no stock separation between eastern North Atlantic (Azores, Majorca, Madeira), and western North Atlantic (Blake Plateau) wreckfish. Restriction site differences separate western South Atlantic wreckfish from the North Atlantic; however, South Atlantic wreckfish share restriction-site similarities with western Pacific wreckfish that are not shared with North Atlantic wreckfish. North Atlantic circulation provides a mechanism for a long-lived pelagic stage to be dispersed from Blake Plateau spawning grounds to the eastern North Atlantic. Global circulation patterns may explain both the dispersal of mtDNA haplotypes and the disjunct distribution of wreckfish body lengths in a temperate, deep-water vagile species with an extended pelagic juvenile stage such as wreckfish.