Project description:The red snapper Lutjanus campechanus is an exploited reef fish of major economic importance in the Gulf of Mexico region. Studies of genome wide genetic variation are needed to understand the structure of wild populations and develop breeding programs for aquaculture but interpretation of these genome scans is limited by the absence of reference genome. In this work, the first draft of a reference genome was developed and characterized for the red snapper. P-454 and Illumina sequencing were conducted to produce paired-end reads that were assembled into reference contigs and scaffolds. The current assembly spans over 770 Mb, representing an estimated 69% of the red snapper genome in 67,254 scaffolds (N50 = 16,803 bp). The genome contigs were applied to map double digest Restriction-Site Associated DNA Tags and characterize Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in five outbred full-sib families. The identified SNPs and 97 microsatellite loci were used to generate a high-density linkage map that includes 7,420 markers distributed across 24 linkage groups and spans 1,346.64 cM with an average inter-marker distance of 0.18 cM. Sex-specific maps revealed a 1.10:1 female to male map length ratio. A total of 4,422 genome contigs (10.5% of the assembly) were anchored to the map and used in a comparative genomic analysis of the red snapper and two model teleosts. Red snapper showed a high degree of chromosome level syntenic conservation with both medaka and spotted green puffer and a near one to one correspondence between the 24 red snapper linkage groups and corresponding medaka chromosomes was observed. This work established the first draft of a reference genome for a lutjanid fish. The obtained genomic resources will serve as a framework for the interpretation of genome scans during studies of wild populations and captive breeding programs.
Project description:Understanding the complex nature of direct and indirect species interactions is a critical precursor to successful resource management. In the northern Gulf of Mexico fisheries ecosystem, red snapper (Lutjanus campechanus) and vermilion snapper (Rhomboplites aurorubens) are two commercially harvested species within a larger reef fish complex. These two species share similar habitats and diets; however, little is known about how these species partition habitat and dietary resources. In this study we examined the extent of spatial and dietary overlap between red snapper and vermilion snapper, and experimentally compared their feeding behavior. Field data from multiple gear types demonstrates that red snapper and vermilion snapper frequently cohabited reefs in the northern Gulf of Mexico, and Pianka's niche overlap indices suggest significantly overlapping diets. Experimental manipulations show that red snapper are the dominant forager of the two species, as red snapper foraging alone ate more shrimp per fish than vermilion snapper in both the single species (p = 0.003) and mixed species (p = 0.02) treatments. In addition, red snapper ate significantly more shrimp per fish in the mixed species treatment than in the single species treatment (p = 0.04). Vermilion snapper shrimp consumption per fish did not differ significantly between mixed and single species treatments. Cumulatively, our results suggest that spatial and dietary overlap could lead to competition between red and vermilion snapper in the study area; however, conclusively determining the existence of such competition would require further research.
Project description:Habitat shifts that occur during the life cycles of marine fishes influence population connectivity and structure. A generalized additive modeling approach was used to characterize relationships between environmental variables and the relative abundance of red snapper Lutjanus campechanus over unconsolidated substrate on the continental shelf (<150 m) of the U.S. Gulf of Mexico (GoM) at three different life stages: juvenile (age-0, <125 mm FL), sub-adult (age-1-2, 125-300 mm FL), and adult (age-2+, >300 mm FL). Fisheries independent data (2008-2014) were used to develop separate models for both the eastern and western GoM, and final models were used to predict the relative availability of suitable habitat for each life stage across the two regions. Predictor variables included in final models varied by age class and region, with depth, dissolved oxygen, longitude, and distance to artificial structure common to most models. Depth was among the most influential variables in all models, and preferred depth increased with increasing size/age. Regional differences in fish-habitat relationships were also observed, as relative abundance of larger red snapper over unconsolidated substrates was more closely linked to artificial structure in the eastern GoM. The location of predicted high quality habitat for juvenile red snapper was greatest on the inner Texas shelf and a smaller area east of the Mississippi River Delta, suggesting these two areas may represent important nursery grounds for the respective regions. Clear ontogenetic shifts in the spatial distribution of predicted high quality habitat were evident in both the eastern (expansion from west to east with age) and western (shift from inshore to offshore) GoM. Given the unique population dynamics between the eastern and western GoM, improving our understanding of spatial and temporal variability in habitat quality may be important to maintaining connectivity between juvenile and adult habitats, and may enhance recovery and management of red snapper stocks in the GoM.
Project description:Artificial reefs continue to be added as habitat throughout the world, yet questions remain about how reef design affects fish diversity and abundance. In the present study, the effects of reef density were assessed for fish communities and sizes of economically valuable Lutjanus campechanus 13 km off Port Mansfield, Texas, at a reef composed of more than 4000 concrete culverts. The study spanned from May to June in 2013 and 2014, and sites sampled included natural reefs, bare areas, and varying culvert patch density categories, ranging from 1-190 culverts. Abundances of adults and species evenness of juvenile populations differed between the years. Fish communities did not significantly differ among density categories; however, highest species richness and total abundances were observed at intermediate culvert densities and at natural reefs. Whereas the abundance of L. campechanus did not differ among density categories, mean total lengths of L. campechanus were greatest at the lower density. Our findings suggest that reefs should be deployed with intermediate patch density of 71-120 culverts in a 30-m radius to yield the highest fish abundances.
Project description:Species delimitation is a major quest in biology and is essential for adequate management of the organismal diversity. A challenging example comprises the fish species of red snappers in the Western Atlantic. Red snappers have been traditionally recognized as two separate species based on morphology: Lutjanus campechanus (northern red snapper) and L. purpureus (southern red snapper). Recent genetic studies using mitochondrial markers, however, failed to delineate these nominal species, leading to the current lumping of the northern and southern populations into a single species ( L. campechanus). This decision carries broad implications for conservation and management as red snappers have been commercially over-exploited across the Western Atlantic and are currently listed as vulnerable. To address this conflict, we examine genome-wide data collected throughout the range of the two species. Population genomics, phylogenetic and coalescent analyses favour the existence of two independent evolutionary lineages, a result that confirms the morphology-based delimitation scenario in agreement with conventional taxonomy. Despite finding evidence of introgression in geographically neighbouring populations in northern South America, our genomic analyses strongly support isolation and differentiation of these species, suggesting that the northern and southern red snappers should be treated as distinct taxonomic entities.