Coupling Demographic and Genetic Variability from Archived Collections of European Anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus)
It is well known that temporal fluctuations in small populations deeply influence evolutionary potential. Less well known is whether fluctuations can influence the evolutionary potentials of species with large census sizes. Here, we estimated genetic population parameters from as survey of polymorphic microsatellite DNA loci in archived otoliths from Adriatic European anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus), a fish with large census sizes that supports numerous local fisheries. Stocks have fluctuated greatly over the past few decades, and the Adriatic fishery collapsed in 1987. Our results show a significant reduction of mean genetic parameters as a consequence of the population collapse. In addition, estimates of effective population size (Ne) are much smaller than those expected in a fishes with large population census sizes (Nc). Estimates of Ne indicate low effective population sizes, even before the population collapse. The ratio Ne/Ne ranged between 10−6 and 10−8, indicating a large discrepancy between the anchovy gene pool and population census size. Therefore, anchovy populations may be more vulnerable to fishery effort and environmental change than previously thought.