Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Hawaii
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Grabowski, TB, V Thorsteinsson, BJ McAdam, & G Marteinsdóttir. 2011. Evidence of segregated spawning in a single marine fish stock: sympatric divergence of ecotypes in Icelandic cod? PLoS ONE 6(3):e17528. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017528


There is increasing recognition of intraspecific diversity and population structure within marine fish species, yet there is little direct evidence of the isolating mechanisms that maintain it or documentation of its ecological extent. We analyzed depth and temperature histories collected by electronic data storage tags retrieved from 104 Atlantic cod at liberty ≥ 1 year to evaluate a possible isolating mechanisms maintaining population structure within the Icelandic cod stock. This stock consists of two distinct behavioral types, resident coastal cod and migratory frontal cod, each occurring within two geographically distinct populations. Despite being captured together on the same spawning grounds, we show the behavioral types seem reproductively isolated by fine-scale differences in spawning habitat selection, primarily depth. Additionally, the different groups occupied distinct seasonal thermal and bathymetric niches that generally demonstrated low levels of overlap throughout the year. Our results indicate that isolating mechanisms, such as differential habitat selection during spawning, might contribute to maintaining diversity and fine-scale population structure in broadcast-spawning marine fishes.