Marine Science Faculty Publications

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barcoding, Cuba, fish egg, Florida Straits, genetic, reef‐associated, spawning

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Identifying spawning sites for broadcast spawning fish species is a key element of delineating critical habitat for managing and regulating marine fisheries. Genetic barcoding has enabled accurate taxonomic identification of individual fish eggs, overcoming limitations of morphological classification techniques. In this study, planktonic fish eggs were collected at 23 stations along the northwestern coast of Cuba and across the Florida Straits to United States waters. A total of 564 fish eggs were successfully identified to 89 taxa within 30 families, with the majority of taxa being resolved to species. We provide new spawning information for Luvarus imperialis (Louvar), Bothus lunatus (Plate Fish), Eumegistus illustris (Brilliant Pomfret), and other economically important species. Data from most sites supported previously established patterns of eggs from neritic fish species found on continental shelves and oceanic species spawning over deeper waters. However, some sites deviated from this pattern, with eggs from reef‐associated fish species detected in the deep waters of the Florida Straits and pelagic species detected in the shallow, continental shelf waters off the coast of northwestern Cuba. Further investigation using satellite imagery revealed the presence of a mesoscale cyclonic eddy, likely entraining neritic fish eggs and transporting them into the Florida Straits. The technique of combining DNA‐based fish egg identification with remote‐sensing hydrodynamics provides an important new tool for assessing the interplay of regional oceanography with fish spawning strategies.


The sequence data used in this article have been deposited into GenBank under the accession numbers MN811696-MN812161 (

Data used in this article are available for download.

DNA barcoding of fish eggs collected aboard R/V Weatherbird II cruise WB1731 across the Florida Straits and off of northwestern Cuba from 2017-05-13 to 2017-05-25

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Fisheries Oceanography, v. 29, issue 4, p. 340-348

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Kerr, M, Browning, J, Bønnelycke, E‐M, et al. DNA barcoding of fish eggs collected off northwestern Cuba and across the Florida Straits demonstrates egg transport by mesoscale eddies. Fish Oceanogr. 2020; 29: 340–348; which has been published in final form at 10.1111/fog.12475. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

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fog12475-sup-0002-tables1.pdf (210 kB)
Supplemental Table 1. Fish egg species identification (common name, habitat, and economic importance information from Multiple species on one row indicates genetic analysis could not discriminate between species in the database.

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