Low population genetic structure is consistent with high habitat connectivity in a commercially important fish species (Lutjanus jocu)

Julia Tovar Verba*, Adam Stow, Bernhard Bein, Maria Grazia Pennino, Priscila F. M. Lopes, Beatrice P. Ferreira, Meghana Mortier, Sergio Maia Queiroz Lima, Ricardo J. Pereira

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
38 Downloads (Pure)


The level of habitat availability influences genetic divergence among populations and the genetic diversity within populations. In the marine environment, near-shore species are among the most sensitive to habitat changes. Knowledge of how historical environmental change affected habitat availability and genetic variation can be applied to the development of proactive management strategies of exploited species. Here, we modeled the contemporary and historical distribution of Lutjanus jocu in Brazil. We describe patterns of genomic diversity to better understand how climatic cycles might correlate with the species demographic history and current genetic structure. We show that during the Last Glacial Maximum, there were ecological barriers that are absent today, possibly dividing the range of the species into three geographically separated areas of suitable habitat. Consistent with a historical reduction in habitat area, our analysis of demographic changes shows that L. jocu experienced a severe bottleneck followed by a population size expansion. We also found an absence of genetic structure and similar levels of genetic diversity throughout the sampled range of the species. Collectively, our results suggest that habitat availability changes have not obviously influenced contemporary levels of genetic divergence between populations. However, our demographic analyses suggest that the high sensitivity of this species to environmental change should be taken into consideration for management strategies. Furthermore, the general low levels of genetic structure and inference of high gene flow suggest that L. jocu likely constitutes a single stock in Brazilian waters and, therefore, requires coordinated legislation and management across its distribution.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
JournalMarine Biology
Issue number1
Early online date12 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2022. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Species distribution modeling
  • Conservation genomics
  • Demographic history
  • Brazil
  • South Atlantic


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