Pilot study investigating population connectivity of the Hawaiian Flame Wrasse, Cirrhilabrus jordani
Maya Munstermann1, Sydney Gamiao1, Richard Masse1, Jolene Sutton2, Maria Haws1
1Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center, Hilo, Hawaii. 2University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo, Hawaii


II. Building the Future


Assessments of genetic structure and population connectivity of Hawaiian flame wrasse may provide a model for gene dispersal in Hawaiian reef fishes and potentially be applied to other economically, culturally, and biologically important reef fish species. Combining tools such as genetic analysis with aquaculture techniques is considered a valuable strategy in the conservation of Hawaiian reef fishes. However, minimal funding and lack of genetics expertise often act as barriers in including genetics in conservation programs. Here, we outline a collaborative initiative among University of Hawai‘i at Hilo’s Department of Biology undergraduate genetics class, Tropical Conservation Biology and Environmental Science graduate program (TCBES), and Pacific Aquaculture and Coastal Resources Center (PACRC). This initiative aims to generate preliminary genetic data investigating genetic structure in endemic Hawaiian flame wrasse (Cirrhilabrus jordani), by involving undergraduate student coursework. Genetic comparisons of wild populations coupled with larval rearing will indicate the duration of the larval cycle and allow us to determine if this species is a large metapopulation or separate island populations. Undergraduate students are working with flame wrasse samples collected from Oahu, Maui, and Hawaiʻi Island obtained through the PACRC larval rearing program. During the undergraduate’s teaching lab, fish are genotyped to assess cytochrome oxidase I (COI) genetic variation. The COI gene is often used in genetic structure analysis, however future directions include conducting a genome-wide SNP analysis. This project will be used to increase undergraduate involvement in hands-on research with local relevance, as well as increase interdepartmental collaborations at UHH.