UW Aquatic & Fishery Sciences Quantitative Seminar
Alaska Fisheries Science Center/ UW-School of Aquatic & Fishery Sciences
The North Pacific skates; from biology to mathematics to molecular systematics and support for a newly described species
We examined sequence variability in a 557 bp segment of the cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene in four closely related North Pacific and Bering Sea skate species, Leopard skate, B. parmifera, B. simoterus, and B. smirnovi, as well as 19 related species. Genetic screening of 226 samples across the range of the species previously considered B. parmifera revealed three distinct haplotypes, one of which represents the newly described species, Leopard skate. Comparison with the western Pacific species B. simoterus and B. smirnovi indicates that together these four species comprise the skate subgenus Arctoraja. Phylogenetic analysis of 15 other species of Bathyraja and four outgroup taxa indicates that the subgenus Arctoraja is monophyletic, but that the genus Bathyraja is paraphyletic due to the phylogenetic position of Rhinoraja. Geographically, the distribution of Leopard skate is distinct from the two haplotypes of B. parmifera; it was only observed west of Amchitka Pass in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Of the two haplotypes of B. parmifera, neither was observed west of Amchitka Pass. Only the common haplotype was observed in the central Aleutians between Amchitka and Samalga Pass, and both were found on the eastern Bering Sea shelf and in the Gulf of Alaska.