Tarpon Genetics Program

BTT Tarpon Genetics Program:

Sample Tarpon, Help The Fishery

Project Sponsored by  YETI RGB

One of the core questions that we need to answer to ensure a strong tarpon conservation plan is: Is the Atlantic tarpon population made up of one large population or many smaller sub-populations? The satellite tagging data have shown that some adult tarpon migrate long distances, indicating that regional management is warranted. But at what scale? Are tarpon in Mexico the same tarpon that swim in Florida waters? Do tarpon mix between the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico? Where are juvenile tarpon spawned – do they come from local spawning locations or do they travel as larvae from far-away spawning sites? To what extent do fishing pressure and harvest in one location impact the fishery in other locations? To what extent does the tarpon fishery in the Florida Keys depend on a sub-population, share tarpon with a larger regional population, or a mixture of these scenarios? Given recent advances in genetic science, the best way to address this important topic is through genetic analysis.

In collaboration with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Bonefish & Tarpon Trust began a two-year Tarpon Genetics Program in 2014. The goal of this program is to analyze the genetic population structure of tarpon to determine if there is a single, regional tarpon population or multiple sub-populations. This will determine to what extent the overall tarpon conservation strategy should focus on a single, regional-scale approach, or on multiple, local-scale, conservation measures.

holding tarpon

The collection phase of Tarpon Genetics has ended. Thank you to all who participated. Results will be available at the end of 2016!

 Learn more about the program and potential conservation outcomes.


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