Fish population structuring in the North Sea: understanding processes and mechanisms from studies of the movements of adults


  • J. D. Metcalfe

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    1. Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, Lowestoft Laboratory, Lowestoft, Suffolk, England, U.K.
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Few fish species form single, panmictic populations throughout their geographic range, most form subpopulations or ‘stocks’ with differing levels of interconnectivity. Different patterns of interconnectivity between subpopulations will give rise to different responses to exploitation and management, but they will also have different capacities to generate the genetic and phenotypic differences often used to discriminate between stocks. Consequently, knowledge of ontogenetic and seasonal patterns in the distribution, movement and behaviour of individuals is crucial to identifying population substructure. This paper considers the evidence gathered about movements and behaviour of adult fishes from mark-recapture and electronic tagging studies for a number of fish species in the North Sea and elsewhere in U.K. waters in an attempt to understand population structure and the processes that may give rise to it.