, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 1087-1093
Date: 26 Feb 2009

Conservation of population structure and genetic diversity under captive breeding of remnant coaster brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) populations

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Abstract

Rebuilding wild populations often involves captive broodstocks derived from small, remnant populations. We measured a hatchery program’s ability to conserve genetic diversity when founding captive broodstocks from such populations. Migratory coaster brook trout were extirpated from most of their historic range in US waters of Lake Superior and were proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act. Two captive broodstocks, one with 19 founders and another with 99 founders, were established to rebuild US populations. We used microsatellite markers to examine genetic variation in source populations and early hatchery generations. Broodstocks retained the strong differentiation found between source populations; however, one founder, with a low probability of belonging to either source population, sired 5.7% of F1 progeny. We found small changes in within-population genetic variation across successive wild and hatchery generations of broodstocks. Evaluation of stage-specific survivorship indicated that equalizing family sizes of embryos produced modest gains in the effective number of breeders, and that survival in the hatchery was nearly random across families. Our study demonstrates the value of genetic monitoring during initial stages of hatchery programs for small and declining populations.