Genetic structure of freshwater Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) populations from the lakes Onega and Ladoga of northwest Russia and implications for conservation
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- Ozerov, M.Y., Veselov, A.J., Lumme, J. et al. Conserv Genet (2010) 11: 1711. doi:10.1007/s10592-010-0064-1
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Freshwater Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) populations are a living example of adaptation to the changing conditions caused by glacial cycles. The uniqueness of these populations is emphasized by almost complete resistance to the dangerous parasite Gyrodactylus salaris. In Europe, freshwater salmon populations occur primarily in north-western Russia in the republic of Karelia. These systems include Lakes Ladoga and Onega, the two largest lakes in Europe, each of which harbours a number of freshwater salmon spawning rivers. We used microsatellite markers to study the genetic structure and temporal stability of 11 freshwater salmon populations in Russian Karelia. Populations clustered according their region of origin. Although temporal variation in allele frequencies was observed in the majority of temporal comparisons, various lines of evidence demonstrated that this influence was relatively minor compared to spatial variation that explained eight times more of the variability than temporal variation. Temporal stability tended to occur in populations from rivers with a higher linear lake coefficient. The high level of genetic structuring observed in both lake systems and the apparent low level of migration between populations suggests that treating each river as a separate management unit is recommended. In addition, as the number of populations is large, the best strategy for such fine scale management would be to ensure that the level of natural reproduction in each river is sufficient to sustain the population. A prioritization strategy for population conservation based on estimating the relative roles of different evolutionary forces shaping the gene pools highlighted a number of populations where further monitoring is warranted and also identified populations which could be prioritized for conservation as living gene banks in the event that conservation resources are limited. This prioritization agreed well with the occurrence of temporal (in)stability.