Management Across Borders: Assessing Connectivity of Panulirus Interruptus Populations Throughout California and Mexico, and P. Marginatus Populations Among the Hawaiian Islands

EPA Grant Number: F6E21172
Title: Management Across Borders: Assessing Connectivity of Panulirus Interruptus Populations Throughout California and Mexico, and P. Marginatus Populations Among the Hawaiian Islands
Investigators: Iacchei, Matthew
Institution: University of Hawaii at Manoa
EPA Project Officer: Hahn, Intaek
Project Period: September 1, 2006 through September 1, 2009
Project Amount: $111,344
RFA: STAR Graduate Fellowships (2006) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Academic Fellowships , Fellowship - Aquatic Ecology and Ecosystems , Fellowship - Marine Ecology


International management of marine species has become essential as we have realized that adult movement, and more frequently, larval dispersal does not often adhere to geopolitical borders. While international cooperation is increasingly common for highly migratory pelagic species, plans have been slow to develop for near shore species with less mobile adults. I will investigate connectivity among populations of a temperate/sub-tropical spiny lobster, Panulirus interruptus, from Baja California Sur, Mexico, to Point Conception, California, USA. In Mexico, the lobster fishery has recently been deemed sustainable, while in California, the sustainability of the fishery is unknown. Temporal and spatial connectivity scales will be compared with a tropical lobster species in the same genus, P. marginatus. The P. marginatus fishery in the Northwest Hawaiian Islands has been closed since 2000, yet populations do not appear to be re-bounding. The elucidation of connectivity among populations in these two species on an ecological time scale will enable managers to create more sustainable management plans.


Samples for the analysis will be collected with a variety of methods (trapping, scuba diving, commercial fishermen) throughout the range of P. interruptus, and from each of the Hawaiian Islands for P. marginatus. Species-specific microsatellite markers will be utilized to assess connectivity between populations. Microsatellites are regions of non-coding, repetitive DNA sequences ideal for population genetics studies because of their high mutation rates, which cause differences in sequence lengths among even closely related populations.

Expected Results:

The results of this experiment should definitively answer whether populations of P. interruptus in California and Baja California, Mexico are panmictic, replenished through localized recruitment, or if Baja is a source population for California. By elucidating population interrelationships, these results will establish the scale on which this species needs to be managed. In Hawaii, larval source and sink populations will be identified throughout the island chain, which may help to reveal why populations have not recovered since the fishery was closed. Comparisons between the temporal and spatial scales at which populations are connected in each species will benefit fisheries managers internationally, as lobster species in this genus are fished worldwide.

Supplemental Keywords:

Panulirus interruptus, Panulirus marginatus, lobster, connectivity, microsatellites, gene flow, population genetics, marine protected areas, fisheries management, commercial and recreational fishing, California, Baja California, Mexico, Hawaii, Northwest Hawaiian Islands,, RFA, Scientific Discipline, ECOSYSTEMS, Ecosystem Protection/Environmental Exposure & Risk, Aquatic Ecosystems & Estuarine Research, Aquatic Ecosystem, Aquatic Ecosystems, Environmental Monitoring, Ecology and Ecosystems, aquaculture, ecosystem monitoring, marine biology, fish communities, fisheries, breeding distributions, conservation biology, California

Progress and Final Reports:

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • Final