, Volume 158, Issue 4, pp 903-915

Population genetic structure and genetic diversity of three critically endangered Pristis sawfishes in Australian waters

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Abstract

Northern Australia is considered to be one of the last strongholds for three critically endangered sawfishes, Pristis zijsron, Pristis clavata, and Pristis microdon, making these populations of global significance. Population structure and levels of genetic diversity were assessed for each species across northern Australia using a portion of the mitochondrial control region. Statistically significant genetic structure was detected in all three species, although it was higher in P. microdon (F ST = 0.811; N = 149) than in either P. clavata (F ST = 0.419; N = 73) or P. zijsron (F ST = 0.202; N = 49), possibly due to a much higher and/or localized level of female philopatry in P. microdon. The overall levels of haplotype diversity in P. zijsron (h = 0.555), P. clavata (h = 0.489), and P. microdon (h = 0.650) were moderate, although it appears to be reduced in the assemblages of P. zijsron and P. clavata in the Gulf of Carpentaria (h = 0.342 and h = 0.083, respectively). Since female migration (replenishment) between regions is unlikely, conservation plans should strive to maintain current levels of diversity and abundances in the regional assemblages of each species.

Communicated by M. I. Taylor.