A temporal perspective on population structure and gene flow in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) in Newfoundland, Canada

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Abstract:

Studying population structure and gene flow patterns on temporal scales facilitates an evaluation of the consequences of demographic, physical, and environmental changes on the stability and persistence of populations. Here, we examine temporal genetic variation within and among Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) rivers in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, using samples collected over a period of six decades (1951–2004). Our objective was to evaluate temporal changes in population connectivity associated with the closure of a commercial marine fishery. Despite demographic instability, we find that population structure remained temporally stable over more than 50years. However, age structure can affect results when not taken into consideration, particularly in populations of large effective size where genetic drift is not strong. Where weak signals of genetic differentiation did not complicate analyses, contemporary migration was often asymmetric, yet low, suggesting patterns of intermittent gene flow. Nevertheless, we find some links between changes in population dynamics and contemporary gene flow. These findings may therefore imply that management decisions impacting the contemporary population dynamics of individual Atlantic salmon rivers can also affect the genetic stability of this species as a whole.

L’étude de la structure démographique et des patrons de flux génique sur des échelles temporelles facilite l’évaluation des conséquences des changements démographiques, physiques et environnementaux sur la stabilité et la persistance des populations. Nous examinons ici la variation génétique temporelle au sein des rivières et entre les rivières à saumons (Salmo salar) à Terre-Neuve et au Labrador, Canada, à l’aide d’échantillons prélevés au cours de six décennies (1951–2004). Notre objectif est d’évaluer les changements temporels de connectivité des populations associés à la fermeture d’une pêche commerciale marine. Malgré l’instabilité démographique, la structure de la population est demeurée stable dans le temps pendant plus de 50 ans. Cependant, si on ne tient pas compte de la structure en âge, cela peut affecter les résultats particulièrement dans les populations de forte taille effective dans lesquelles la dérive génétique n’est pas élevée. Lorsque de faibles signaux de différenciation génétique ne compliquent pas les analyses, la migration contemporaine est souvent asymétrique, mais faible, ce qui laisse croire à des patrons de flux génique intermittents. Néanmoins, il existe des liens entre les changements dans la dynamique de population et le flux génique du moment. Ces résultats peuvent donc avoir comme conséquence que les décisions de gestion qui affectent la dynamique de population à un moment donné dans les différentes rivières à saumon atlantique peuvent aussi impacter la stabilité génétique de l’espèce dans son ensemble.

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: February 1, 2010

More about this publication?
  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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