Conservation Genetics

, Volume 13, Issue 6, pp 1509–1520

Effective size and genetic composition of two exploited, migratory whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus lavaretus) populations

  • R. J. Scott McCairns
  • Anna Kuparinen
  • Bineet Panda
  • Erkki Jokikokko
  • Juha Merilä
Research Article

DOI: 10.1007/s10592-012-0394-2

Cite this article as:
McCairns, R.J.S., Kuparinen, A., Panda, B. et al. Conserv Genet (2012) 13: 1509. doi:10.1007/s10592-012-0394-2

Abstract

Large scale harvesting and other anthropogenic activities have caused severe population declines in many commercially important fish populations, but accurate information about census and effective population size is often hard to come by. Available evidence suggests that in marine fishes, effective population size (Ne) is often several orders of magnitude smaller than census size, such that intensively harvested populations may be particularly vulnerable to loss of genetic diversity. The European whitefish (Coregonus lavaretus) has a long history of heavy exploitation in the Baltic Sea, and the Finnish commercial catch of the species has been substantially reduced, despite high fishing effort. We investigated the temporal genetic stability of migratory whitefish populations from two Finnish rivers (Tornionjoki and Kiiminkijoki), sampled at least twice between 1981 and 2006, by assaying variability in 21 microsatellite loci. Our results suggest a small, albeit significant (FST = 0.004; p = 0.008) and temporally stable, degree of differentiation between rivers. However, in contrast to earlier reports, heterochronous runs (ascending groups) from Tornionjoki did not exhibit significant genetic divergence. Bayesian estimates of Ne suggest substantial declines from historic levels dating to ca 250 years. Yet despite a probable decrease in census population size over the study period, we detected no significant change in contemporary Ne. Within group genetic diversity appeared largely unchanged over this time frame; however, we detected a trend towards decreased differentiation between spawning groups (rivers) since the 1980s. These results are discussed in light of stocking programs and conservation of genetic diversity of natural populations.

Keywords

Fisheries stock assessment Genetic monitoring Effective population size (NePopulation bottleneck Supplemental breeding Stocking 

Supplementary material

10592_2012_394_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (39 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 38 kb)
10592_2012_394_MOESM2_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 14 kb)

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. J. Scott McCairns
    • 1
  • Anna Kuparinen
    • 1
  • Bineet Panda
    • 1
    • 3
  • Erkki Jokikokko
    • 2
  • Juha Merilä
    • 1
  1. 1.Ecological Genetics Research Unit, Department of BiosciencesUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland
  2. 2.Finnish Game and Fisheries Research InstituteKeminmaaFinland
  3. 3.Division of Genetics and Physiology, Department of BiologyUniversity of TurkuTurkuFinland

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