Is a Rougheye Rockfish Really a Rougheye Rockfish?

Is a Rougheye Rockfish Really a Rougheye Rockfish?

A.J. Gharrett

Is a Rougheye Rockfish Really a Rougheye Rockfish?This is part of What Does Genetics Have to Do with It? 3rd edn
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Fisheries managers make the best decisions possible, often with very scanty data. Around every decision corner may lurk a surprise that can alter how they should consider their information. An assumption that is frequently safe is that we can distinguish among species from differences in their appearance. However, when two species diverge from a common ancestor, they may appear very similar until obvious physical differences have been generated by evolutionary pressures. Recently, we discovered that the rougheye rockfish, which has been targeted for harvest in the North Pacific Ocean for at least a century, actually includes two genetically distinct species. This discovery means that management of rougheye rockfish must be revisited and emphasizes that more effort needs to be devoted to understanding the biology of marine species so we can be sure that our conservation and management efforts are effective. In this chapter, we describe the results that revealed the two species as well as subsequent work we have done to learn about the biological differences between the species and how they are distributed geographically.

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