During my PhD I worked with the New Zealand scallop (Pecten novaezelandiae), an endemic marine species living on sandy and soft bottom habitats that supports important fisheries.
Population connectivity is an important process for population replenishment and the management of ecosystems. Understanding the patterns of genetic structure of species, and the processes driving such patterns, is essential not only for learning about the ecology and evolution of the species but also for implementing effective management strategies. Genetic studies allow the accurate assessment of levels of variability and identification of the degree of differentiation between populations or stocks, both of which are crucial when preparing conservation and management plans.
For this study, I have:
- Developed genetic markers (called microsatellites) using next-generation sequencing (454 sequencing);
- Applied the genetic markers to samples collected from 14 locations around New Zealand (Figure 1) to determine patterns of connectivity and genetic structure;
- Study how environmental factors such as levels of suspended particulate matter may influence these genetic patterns and
- Estimated spatial and temporal patterns of genetic variation in the Coromandel fishery using microsatellites and hydrodynamic modelling, studying possible source-sink relationships.
Publications from this study:
Silva CNS, Gardner JPA (2014). Development and characterisation of 12 microsatellite markers for the New Zealand endemic scallop Pecten novaezelandiae. Conservation Genetics Resources 6(2), 327-328.
Silva CNS (2015). Spatial and temporal genetic structure of the New Zealand scallop Pecten novaezelandiae: A multidisciplinary perspective. PhD thesis, Victoria University of Wellington.
Silva CNS, Gardner JPA (2015). Emerging patterns of genetic variation in the New Zealand endemic scallop Pecten novaezelandiae. PMolecular Ecology 24 (21), 5379-5393.
Hannan DA, Constable HB, Silva CNS, Bell JJ, Ritchie PA, Gardner JPA (2016). Genetic population structure, connectivity and barriers to gene flow amongst New Zealand’s open sandy shore and estuarine coastal taxa. New Zealand Aquatic Environment and Biodiversity Report No. 172, 93 pp.
Silva CNS, Gardner JPA (2016). Identifying environmental factors associated with the genetic structure of the New Zealand scallop: linking seascape genetics and ecophysiological tolerance. ICES Journal of Marine Science 73(7), fsv240
This research was part of a Ministry of Primary Industries funded project (ZBD2009-10) that aimed to generate new knowledge of population connectivity for management and conservation purposes.