Microsatellite markers and mtDNA data indicate two distinct groups in dwarf galaxias, Galaxiella pusilla (Mack) (Pisces: Galaxiidae), a threatened freshwater fish from south-eastern Australia
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Galaxiella pusilla is a small, non-migratory freshwater fish, endemic to south-eastern Australia and considered nationally threatened. To assist in the conservation of the species, microsatellite markers were developed and used to characterize genetic variation in 20 geographically distinct populations across its range. Substantial genetic differentiation was found between an eastern (Victoria east of the Otway Ranges and Tasmania) and western (South Australia and Victoria west of, and including, the Otway Ranges) region. This major separation was also observed in data from a mitochondrial gene and supports a previously proposed split. Populations from the eastern region had overall lower genetic diversity for both the microsatellite and mtDNA markers. There was substantial genetic differentiation between populations within the two regions, suggesting that gene flow is limited by the isolation of freshwater streams. Genetic structure, consistent with an isolation-by-distance model, was also evident in both regions. Patterns of genetic variation in this threatened species are compared to those obtained for other taxa across the same region. The need to consider separate conservation strategies for the two sets of populations is emphasized.