Ice-age survival of Atlantic cod: Agreement between palaeoecology models and genetics

Grant R. Bigg, Clifford W. Cunningham, Geir Ottersen, Grant H. Pogson, Martin R. Wadley, Phillip Williamson

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Scant scientific attention has been given to the abundance and distribution of marine biota in the face of the lower sea level, and steeper latitudinal gradient in climate, during the ice-age conditions that have dominated the past million years. Here we examine the glacial persistence of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) populations using two ecological-niche-models (ENM) and the first broad synthesis of multi-locus gene sequence data for this species. One ENM uses a maximum entropy approach (Maxent); the other is a new ENM for Atlantic cod, using ecophysiological parameters based on observed reproductive events rather than adult distribution. Both the ENMs were tested for present-day conditions, then used to hindcast ranges at the last glacial maximum (LGM) ca 21?kyr ago, employing climate model data. Although the LGM range of Atlantic cod was much smaller, and fragmented, both the ENMs agreed that populations should have been able to persist in suitable habitat on both sides of the Atlantic. The genetic results showed a degree of trans-Atlantic divergence consistent with genealogically continuous populations on both sides of the North Atlantic since long before the LGM, confirming the ENM results. In contrast, both the ENMs and the genetic data suggest that the Greenland G. morhua population post-dates the LGM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)163-172
Number of pages10
JournalProceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences
Issue number1631
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jan 2008

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