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COI Funded Project: Assessing Genetic Subdivision in the Ocean Quahog (Arctica islandica)

Project Duration: 6/1/99-12/31/99
Key Words: Artica islandica ocean quahog, phylogeography, DNA, genetic populations

Proposed Research

The ocean quahog, Arctica islandica is a slow-growing species of clam that occurs in the coastal margins of the northern Atlantic. Although not harvested in Europe, in the USA this clam helps support a multimillion dollar commercial quahog industry. Based on available information, the life history of the ocean quahog is considerably different from the faster-growing northern quahog (Mercenaria mercenaria) that occurs in shallower waters. "Arctica islandica" found in Maine is, on average, much smaller than the ocean quahog found south of Boston or in European waters. The purpose of this project is to examine the genetic subdivision (i.e., phylogeography) of A. islandica using molecular tools (DNA sequence data and RFLP analysis). We will determine if A. islandica , as currently recognized, constitutes one panmictic population or several genetically distinct lineages. The results of this study have substantial implications for the management of a sustainable fishery for this organism (especially because of its slow growth rate). Additionally, if the Maine quahogs are genetically distinct, we will begin to look for possible factors (such as current patterns and other physical or geological processes) that maintain isolation.

Originally published: January 25, 1999