Arabian Albulids: genetic diversity and life history characteristics of bonefish in the Saudi Arabian Red Sea

  • Collin T. Williams

Student thesis: Master's Thesis

Abstract

The genus Albula includes marine fish species, commonly called bonefish, that occur in tropical coastal ecosystems worldwide. Their association to nearshore marine environments makes bonefish especially vulnerable to habitat loss and overharvest. Artisanal fisheries often harvest bonefish, although, in certain areas, bonefish support lucrative catch-and-release recreational fisheries. Bonefish are largely understudied compared to other economically significant fish species, and the presence of cryptic species within the Albula genus has further complicated the establishment of conservation measures. In particular, there is no detailed biological information available on bonefish from the Red Sea despite the unregulated harvest of bonefish that occurs there. To facilitate the establishment of management and contribute to the overall knowledge of Albula biology, I assessed the genetic diversity, growth, and seasonal reproduction of bonefish in Saudi Arabia. Based on samples collected from local fish markets and coastal waters, my findings provide the first genetically verified records of A. glossodonta in the Red Sea and A. oligolepis in the northwest Indian Ocean. Moreover, my results indicate a genetically distinct Red Sea population of A. glossodonta that reaches smaller sizes than documented for the species in the Pacific Ocean and exhibits distinct seasonal spawning activity over the winter months. This information enables fishery managers to make informed decisions regarding bonefish size limits and seasonal colures around peak spawning activity. My results may become increasingly relevant as the potential for lucrative recreational fisheries for Albula glossodonta will likely increase with the ambitious Red Sea tourism development plans.
Date of AwardApr 2020
Original languageEnglish (US)
Awarding Institution
  • Biological, Environmental Science and Engineering
SupervisorMichael Berumen (Supervisor)

Keywords

  • Bonefish
  • Fisheries
  • Red Sea
  • Albula
  • Spawning
  • Otolith

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