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Presentation TitleThe Long and Short of Clearnose Skate Morphometric and Meristic Comparisons
Presenting Author NameLindsey Nelson
Presenting Author AffiliationVirginia Institute of Marine Science
Presenting Author EmailEmail hidden; Javascript is required.
Presenting Author Social Media Handles@indseynoel
Presentation Number11
Unit MeetingTidewater Chapter
General Topicmarine fish biology
Type of PresentationOral

Clearnose skates, Rostroraja eglanteria (Bosc 1800) inhabit the United States coastal waters of the western Atlantic Ocean and in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. They are often incidentally caught in bottom trawl fisheries, discarded at sea, and poorly accounted for. Unlike their more charismatic relatives, they have been afforded little attention by fisheries managers and conservation groups. Policies can be implemented or improved, but in order to do that, more life history research is needed. In particular, understanding population structure can aid in characterizing R. eglanteria population gene flow, segregation, migration, local adaptation, and phenotypic variation, allowing managers to delimiting stocks and more accurately manage harvest. We tested whether clearnose skates consist of a single panmictic population by examining variation of physical traits. For the purposes of our research, R. eglanteria’s natural range has been subdivided into three study regions; the east coast of the U.S. north of Cape Hatteras, the east coast of the U.S. between Hatteras and the Florida Peninsula, and the Gulf of Mexico. A suite of 86 variables including morphometric measurements and meristic counts of thorns, teeth and bone, and dermal denticle presence were collected from whole specimens. These were used to look for evidence of morphological variation among and between the study regions in subsequent pairwise and PCA tests. These results will be used in tandem with fine scale genetic analysis and together can provide biologically meaningful insights regarding R. eglanteria populations.