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Genomic Evidence Indicates Small Island-Resident Populations and Sex-Biased Behaviors of Hawaiian Reef Manta Rays

July 08, 2023

Long-term persistence of reef manta rays in the Hawaiian Islands will require island-specific management strategies.

Reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi) are globally distributed in tropical and subtropical seas. Their life history traits (slow growth, late maturity, low reproductive output) make them vulnerable to perturbations and therefore require informed management strategies. Previous studies have reported wide-spread genetic connectivity along continental shelves suggesting high gene flow along continuous habitats spanning hundreds of kilometers. However, in the Hawaiian Islands, tagging and photo-identification evidence suggest island populations are isolated despite proximity, a hypothesis that has not yet been evaluated with genetic data. This island-resident hypothesis was tested by analyzing whole mitogenome haplotypes and 2048 nuclear single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) on Hawaiʻi Island and Maui Nui (the 4-island complex of Maui, Molokaʻi, Lānaʻi and Kahoʻolawe).


Whitney JL, Coleman RR, Deakos MH. 2023. Genomic evidence indicates small island-resident populations and sex-biased behaviors of Hawaiian reef Manta Rays. BMC Ecol Evo 23, 31.  https://doi.org/10.1186/s12862-023-02130-0.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 07/11/2023