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Fine-scale population genetic structure of the yellow perch Perca flavescens in Lake Erie

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Discerning the genetic basis underlying fine-scale population structure of exploited native species and its relationship to management units is a critical goal for effective conservation. This study provides the first high-resolution genetic test of fine-scale relationships among spawning groups of the yellow perch Perca flavescens. Lake Erie yellow perch stocks comprise valuable sport and commercial fisheries and have fluctuated extensively owing to highly variable annual recruitment patterns. Fifteen nuclear DNA microsatellite loci are analyzed for 569 individuals from 13 primary Lake Erie spawning sites and compared with those spawning in Lakes St.¬†Clair and Ontario. Additional comparisons test for possible genetic differences between sexes and among size–age cohorts. Results demonstrate that yellow perch spawning groups in Lake Erie are genetically distinguishable and do not differ between sexes and among age cohorts. Population genetic structure does not follow a genetic isolation with geographic distance pattern, and some spawning groups contribute more to overall lake-wide genetic diversity than do others. Partitioning of the yellow perch’s genetic structure shows little congruence to lake basins or to current management units. Our findings underlie the importance of understanding spawning habitat and behavior to conserve the genetic stock structure of a key fishery.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: August 27, 2011

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  • 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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