NMFS-Sea Grant Population and Ecosystem Dynamics Graduate Fellowship (David Nicholas Weber Jr.): Applying Genomic Techniques to Fisheries Management: A Focus on Exploited Groupers (Family Serrandiae) Grant uri icon


  • Advancements in genetic technologies now allow for the cost-effective collection of genome-wide data in non-model species. These genomic approaches are improving our understanding of how marine organisms respond to environmental change and are improving our ability to monitor and manage populations of exploited species. The proposed dissertation will apply genome-wide molecular techniques to generate data necessary to assess and manage populations of exploited grouper species. The primary objectives are to: 1) assess genetic population structure and connectivity in three species of exploited groupers (red grouper, yellowedge grouper, and speckled hind) in the U.S. Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, using several single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs); 2) asses for correlations between life history characteristics (growth rate, size-at-age, etc.), and components of genetic variation in all three species; and 3) investigate a potential novel, non-lethal method of aging fish, by using reduced-representation bisulfate sequencing to identify sites in the genome that exhibit age-correlated methylation. The proposed dissertation will contribute significantly to the informed management and conservation of multiple exploited grouper species through the collection of critical information on population structure, connectivity, and genetic demographics. Additionally, the validation of a methylation-based aging technique, and the identification of conserved loci that exhibit age-correlation methylation across grouper species, could enable future researchers to target specific age-correlated sites in the genome, facilitating more cost-effective, efficient, and non-invasive aging for numerous species.

date/time interval

  • 2020 - 2023