Several rockfish species (genus Sebastes) along the northeastern Pacific Ocean have rapidly declined in abundance owing in part to overfishing. A striking exception is the dwarf-like Puget Sound rockfish Sebastes emphaeus, whose densities have increased by several orders of magnitude over the last several decades. To describe their genetic structure, we sequenced 395 bp from the mitochondrial control region of 128 S. emphaeus adults from 5 locations spanning approximately 120 km of the Northwest Straits of Washington state. We detected no significant genetic differentiation among these populations and substantial genetic variation within populations, a pattern that may indicate high levels of ongoing gene flow. Preliminary data from 2 microsatellite loci are also consistent with panmixia. The mtDNA sequences also suggest that Puget Sound rockfish populations have expanded substantially since the retreat of Pleistocene glaciers made habitat in Puget Sound region available approximately 12,000 years ago.
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