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Stock structure and demographic history of the Indo-West Pacific mud crab Scylla serrata
Fratini, S.; Ragionieri, L.; Cannicci, S. (2010). Stock structure and demographic history of the Indo-West Pacific mud crab Scylla serrata. Est., Coast. and Shelf Sci. 86: 51-61
In: Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science. Academic Press: London; New York. ISSN 0272-7714, more
Peer reviewed article  

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Keywords
Author keywords
    mitochondrial DNA, genetic diversity, mud crab, Indo-Pacific Ocean, mangroves, stock assessment

Authors  Top 
  • Fratini, S.
  • Ragionieri, L.
  • Cannicci, S.

Abstract
    The increasing exploitation of mangrove forests, without any sustainable planning, has been seriously compromising the survival of this ecosystem and of its exclusive resources. Scylla serrata is one of the most commercially exploited crabs inhabiting mangroves and estuaries of the Indo-Pacific region. This species is extensively harvested, mainly for selling to the tourist market, and, as a consequence, its populations are in constant decline. The aim of the present study was to assess the level of genetic exchange of S. serrata within the Western Indian Ocean (WIO), using a population genetic structure approach. To achieve this goal, we reconstructed the intra-specific geographic pattern of genetic variation by partial sequencing the mitochondrial DNA cytochrome oxidase subunit I, in samples from seven mangrove sites of the WIO. Our data set then encompassed all the sequences for the same genetic marker deposited in Genbank and corresponding to samples from South East Asia, Australia and some Pacific Islands: this allowed us to estimate the level of connectivity among S. serrata populations within its distribution area. Our results show that an unique Scylla serrata metapopulation exists within the WIO; while throughout the entire Indo-Pacific region at least three distinct genetic stocks occur, corresponding to well-defined geographic regions (WIO, Eastern Australia and Pacific Ocean, North-Western Australia). South East China appears as the depositary of the most ancient haplotype and at the present time shares a haplotype with the Red Sea. The WIO populations show the signature of recent population bottlenecks, as expected for populations deeply exploited in a recent past. On the basis of our results, we can conclude that both the S. serrata populations and their habitats, i.e. mangrove forests and estuaries, of the WIO require future management and conservation regulations to avoiding overexploitation of this important key predator and marketable resource.

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