Cycle 1 (2011 Deadline)
Enhancing marine natural resource and biodiversity management in the Philippines by extending population connectivity research
PI: Maria Carmen Ablan Lagman, De La Salle University
US Partner: Kent Carpenter, Old Dominion University
Project Dates: June 2012 - May 2015
Severe declines in fisheries resources have implications for millions of coastal families dependent on fisheries for food and livelihood in developing countries. In most cases, the communities dependent on the resources have very few alternatives to the loss of their fisheries-based livelihoods when resources are devastated. Fisheries in these areas urgently need management strategies that will not only halt overfishing and habitat degradation but also hasten recovery of fish stocks. Recovery and eventual sustainability of fisheries subjected to intense fishing pressure hinge on the availability of new recruits and their success in replenishing resources harvested from the system. Information on spatial structure of populations and connectivity will potentially benefit management efforts related to fisheries because it contributes to answering the biological question “why do species occur where they occur?” and “how can we ensure survival of populations in an area?".
This project will use naturally occurring genetic tags to obtain the information needed. Genetic markers will be screened using a recently developed technology called NextGen sequencing. The selected markers will be retrieved from samples from populations within selected bioregions in the Philippines and analyzed to determine which populations have distinct genetic signatures across the Philippine archipelago, likely to be dependent on other populations. This project compliments two major USAID programs, the Coral Triangle Initiative and the Global FISH Alliance. It will provide badly needed biological information on fish stock structure and population connectivity that should help local and regional agencies in setting and implementing fishery management policies to ensure that viable populations survive and thrive.
Summary of Current Activities
This research group presented it morphometric, meristic, and genetic data through posters during the March 2013 visit of Dr. Drika Weller, a AAAS fellow on the PEER Science steering committee. Dr. Kerry Reeves and Ms. Becky Guieb of the USAID mission in Manila also participated.
Dr. Lagman and her team report that most of January 2013 was devoted to gathering data on basic measurable and countable traits from samples of marine species collected from nearly 20 sites throughout the Philippines. During the next two months they worked on optimizing conditions and procedures for DNA analysis, including by PCR amplification of microsatellite markers and fluorescent labeling of primers. This optimization should be completed by mid-summer. During the first quarter of 2013, the researchers also set up the PhilGenes database, which serves as a directory listing the number of DNA sequences obtained from particular genes in species collected in the Philippines, along with contact information for the person who obtained the sequences. Although no actual DNA sequences are contained in the database, it is an extremely valuable tool for accessing unpublished data and making available summaries on the status of genetic research regarding species important to biodiversity conservation. This project involves four different institutions in the Philippines, with De La Salle University serving as the lead. Two graduate students from one of the other partners, University of the Philippines Mindanao, have been in Manila since late February 2013 for training on techniques for DNA extraction and PCR amplification. An undergraduate computer science student assisted with building the PhilGenes database as part of his practicum, and two local high school students assisted with data entry and other tasks in the lab. In the spring and summer of 2013, this multi-university research team will continue their data gathering efforts. Once suppliers are identified for next-generation sequencing, they will be sending out samples with the aim of developing microsatellite markers from both genomes and transcriptomes.
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