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Associated Alumni

Not all lobsters are the same

UNB researchers are once again at the forefront of research with the discovery of small, but unequivocal genetic differences among Atlantic Canada lobsters.

The research, from a five-year study led by Rémy Rochette, a marine evolutionary ecologist on the Saint John campus, could shed light on the way lobsters are connected and possibly impact future management of stocks.

The study received input from more than 500 fishermen and sampling over more than 2,500 ‘boat days’ in the coastal waters off Quebec, Newfoundland and the three Maritime provinces.

It included research into spatial and inter-annual variability in egg production, modeling of larval dispersal, processes underlying the transition from the water column to the sea floor, movements on the sea floor by juvenile and individual lobsters and genetic stock structure.

“This large collaboration with lobster fishermen and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans has provided many advances to our understanding of lobster demography, as well as our ability to study it,” says Rochette. “For example, we developed a large-scale bio-physical model that enables us to predict how larval dispersal connects different management areas, and we demonstrated genetic structure at much smaller spatial scale than was assumed given previous research and our understanding of the species' biology.”

Rochette adds that the most important outcome of this work is the large collaborative platform he and his team have been able to create to address complicated questions concerning lobster biology and demography in Canada.

“We are, for example, attempting to refine our understanding of smaller-scale structure and processes through a three-year NSERC strategic project grant,” he says. “And we are discussing the establishment of a more permanent framework to support lobster research that will require this kind of a collaborative platform in the future.”

The research, presented in Charlottetown and Halifax, is one of 12 projects that are part of the Canadian Fisheries Research Network, the result of $10 million in research aimed at advancing more sustainable fisheries practices and policies in Canada.

Back to Alumni News Direct - January 2016