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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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MEPS 696:119-133 (2022)  -  DOI:

New evidence for the establishment of coastal cod Gadus morhua in Svalbard fjords

Lisa Spotowitz1,*, Torild Johansen2, Agneta Hansen2, Erik Berg2, Christoph Stransky3, Philipp Fischer1

1Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine Research, 27498 Helgoland, Germany
2Institute for Marine Research, 9007 Tromsø, Norway
3Thünen Institute of Sea Fisheries, 27572 Bremerhaven, Germany
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: The Arctic is experiencing increasing water temperatures, leading to a northward shift of Atlantic species into Arctic waters. Arctic marine ecosystems are therefore subject to substantial changes in species distributions and occurrence due to anthropogenic climate change. Atlantic cod is one of the most important commercial fish species in the northern seas. The largest known stock is the migrating Northeast Arctic cod (NEAC) that is distributed along the Norwegian coast, the Barents Sea and off Svalbard. Atlantic cod in Svalbard waters are generally reported in the literature as belonging to the NEAC ecotype. The more stationary coastal cod (CC) spawn together with NEAC in the Lofoten region and several other areas along the Norwegian coast. The aim of this study was to investigate the population structure of Atlantic cod in Svalbard waters. We used single nucleotide polymorphic (SNP) markers, the pantophysin locus (Pan I) and otolith structure to categorize the 2 cod ecotypes collected in Svalbard fjords between 2017 and 2019. Our results show that both NEAC and CC appear in Svalbard fjords and revealed that 0-group and adult CC individuals caught in Svalbard fjords differ genetically from those along the Norwegian coast, indicating a separation into a local Svalbard CC population. The establishment of CC in Svalbard fjords may be another keystone of the ongoing borealization of the Arctic, with consequences for the local Arctic fjord ecosystem.

KEY WORDS: Arctic · Climate change · Kongsfjorden · Otolith shape analysis · Population genetics · Cabled coastal observatory

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Cite this article as: Spotowitz L, Johansen T, Hansen A, Berg E, Stransky C, Fischer P (2022) New evidence for the establishment of coastal cod Gadus morhua in Svalbard fjords. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 696:119-133.

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