Molecular contribution to stock identification in the small-spotted catshark

paper3Published online on 04. March 2014

Molecular contribution to stock identification in the small-spotted catshark, Scyliorhinus canicula (Chondrichthyes, Scyliorhinidae)

M. Barbieri, F. Maltagliati, M.I. Roldán, A. Castelli


The small-spotted catshark Scyliorhinus canicula is a small demersal chondrichthyan distributed on continental shelf and uppermost slope waters of the Mediterranean Sea and north eastern Atlantic Ocean. It has commercial value in some European regions, whereas in other it is considered a bycatch species. Species’ genetic structure was analysed by means of 578 bp mitochondrial COI sequences. A total of 192 individuals (122 obtained in the present work and 70 retrieved from GenBank) from 11 Mediterranean and 1 Atlantic locations were considered. Overall, we detected 27 COI haplotypes, seven of which were newly found. Moreover, a high number of haplotypes were location- and/or region-private. Low values of nucleotide diversity (total π = 0.0027) and moderate to high haplotype diversity (h = 0.500–0.920, total h = 0.827) were found. Significant genetic structuring in the study area was highlighted by AMOVA, Φ-statistics and Bayesian assignment analyses. The Atlantic sample was genetically divergent from Western Mediterranean counterparts and the Adriatic samples diverged from Eastern Mediterranean ones. Instead, Western and Eastern Mediterranean were not significantly divergent, suggesting that the Strait of Sicily is not effective in restricting past or current gene flow. No pattern of isolation by distance was detected. From a fisheries perspective, our results represent the first evidence of genetic structuring in S. canicula and are consistent with the presence of multiple genetic stocks in the study area. Further genetic analyses coupled with a fine grained sampling design are needed to precisely identify the borders of genetic stocks. These data provide a significant contribution for the planning of a long-term effective management policy, which could ensure sustainability of resource exploitation and stock viability.

Fisheries Research, Volume 154, June 2014, Pages 11–16



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