MEPS 349:307-308 (2007)  -  doi:10.3354/meps07281

Defining ‘natal homing’ in marine fish populations: comment on Svedäng et al. (2007)

Ian R. Bradbury1,*, Benjamin J. Laurel2

1Marine Gene Probe Laboratory, Biology Department, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia B3H 4R2, Canada
2National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, Hatfield Marine Science Center, Newport, Oregon 97365, USA

ABSTRACT: The recent study by Svedäng et al. (2007; Mar Ecol Prog Ser 345:1–12) purports to have revealed explicit evidence of natal homing in Atlantic cod Gadus morhua, based on extensive archival tagging; the study, however, ignored the ‘natal’ component of dispersal (i.e. the ichthyoplanktonic phase). The authors observed non-random directional movements in a context of small-scale genetic structure. Yet, in the absence of a linkage to natal habitats, we think that the authors have inappropriately interpreted their findings. Demonstrations of natal homing remain rare in marine species, due to logistical problems, and require assignment of spawning individuals on the basis of natal signatures, or the tracking of individuals from fertilization to spawning.

KEY WORDS: Atlantic cod · Natal homing · Marine fish · Population structure · Philopatry

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Cite this article as: Bradbury IR, Laurel BJ (2007) Defining ‘natal homing’ in marine fish populations: comment on Svedäng et al. (2007). Mar Ecol Prog Ser 349:307-308

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