Conservation Genetics

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 735–739 | Cite as

Conservation genetics of prickly sculpin (Cottus asper) at the periphery of its distribution range in Peace River, Canada

  • Stefan DennenmoserEmail author
  • Arne W. Nolte
  • Steven M. Vamosi
  • Sean M. Rogers
Short Communication


Populations at the edge of their range often invoke taxonomic confusion and are increasingly considered to harbour cryptic genetic diversity of significant adaptive potential. In the Peace River region of northwestern Canada, three sculpin species have been reported: spoonhead (Cottus ricei), slimy (Cottus cognatus) and prickly (Cottus asper) sculpin. Prickly sculpin occurrence in this region represents the most eastern edge of its distribution, but its status has remained uncertain following its initial discovery in 1989. These populations may represent an independently evolving lineage of special conservation concern, or be the consequence of an ongoing range expansion, possibly accompanied by interspecific hybridization with local species. Using a combination of mtDNA sequencing and microsatellite analyses, we did not find peripheral population differentiation or interspecific hybridization, suggesting that the Albertan Peace River population belongs to the same genetic group as its western counterparts. Future studies will benefit from a greater understanding of whether demographically independent prickly sculpin populations established in Alberta without the typical genetic signatures of expansion at the periphery of their range.


Conservation genetics Freshwater fishes Peripheral populations Hybridization Cottus 



Field assistance by Andrew Rezansoff, Lisa Duke and Stevi Vanderzwan is highly appreciated. We thank three anonymous reviewers for constructive comments on an earlier version of this manuscript. We are particularly indebted to Elke Bustorf (Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön, Germany) for help with genotyping. We are thankful to the Albertan Conservation Association (ACA Grants in Biodiversity Program) for financial support. SMR and SMV are funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant Program, and SMR is funded by an Alberta Innovates Technology Futures New Faculty Award.


  1. Allendorf FW, Leary RF, Spruell P, Wenburg JK (2001) The problems with hybrids: setting conservation guidelines. TREE 16:613–622Google Scholar
  2. Anderson JT, Geber MA (2009) Demographic source-sink dynamics restrict local adaptation in Elliot’s Blueberry (Vaccinium elliottii). Evolution 64:370–384PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cassel A, Tammaru T (2003) Allozyme variability in central, peripheral and isolated populations of the scarce heath (Coenonympha hero: Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae): implications for conservation. Conserv Genet 4:83–93CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Cavalli-Sforza LL, Edwards AW (1967) Phylogenetic analysis. Models and estimation procedures. Am J Hum Genet 19:233–257PubMedGoogle Scholar
  5. COSEWIC (2005) Guidelines for recognizing designatable units below the species level. Edited by Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa. COSEWIC Secretariat (COSEWIC/ Accessed 7 June 2012Google Scholar
  6. Dalton KW (1991) Status of the greenside darter, Etheostoma blennioides, in Canada. Can Field Nat 105:173–178Google Scholar
  7. Dieringer D, Schlötterer C (2003) Microsatellite analyser (MSA): a platform independent analysis tool for large microsatellite data sets. Mol Ecol Notes 3:167–169CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Ellstrand NC, Schierenbeck KA (2000) Hybridization as a stimulus for the evolution of invasiveness in plants? PNAS 97:7043–7050PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Excoffier L, Laval G, Schneider S (2005) Arlequin ver. 3.0: an integrated software package for population genetics data analysis. Evol Bioinform Online 1:47–50Google Scholar
  10. Ficetola GF, Bonin A (2011) Conserving adaptive genetic diversity in dynamic landscapes. Mol Ecol 20:1569–1571PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Goudet J (2001) FSTAT, version 2.9.3: a program to estimate and test gene diversities and fixation indices. Accessed 19 June 2012
  12. Hendry AP, Taylor EB (2004) How much of the variation in adaptive divergence can be explained by gene flow? An evaluation using lake-stream stickleback pairs. Evolution 58:2319–2331PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Junker J, Peter A, Wagner CE, Mwaiko S, Germann B, Seehausen O, Keller I (2012) River fragmentation increases localized population genetic structure and enhances asymmetry of dispersal in bullhead (Cottus gobio). Conserv Genet 13:545–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Krejsa RJ (1967) The systematics of the prickly sculpin, Cottus asper Richardson, a polytypic species. Part II—studies on the life history, with special reference to migration. Pac Sci 21:414–422Google Scholar
  15. Langella O (1999) Populations 1.2.32. Accessed 19 June 2012
  16. Larkin MA, Blackshields G, Brown NP, Chenna R, McGettigan PA, McWilliam H, Valentin F, Wallace IM, Wilm A, Lopez R, Thompson JD, Gibson TJ, Higgins DG (2007) ClustalW and clustal X version 2.0. Bioinformatics 23:2947–2948PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Lesica P, Allendorf FW (1995) When are peripheral populations valuable for conservation? Conserv Biol 9:753–760CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. McPhail JD (2007) The freshwater fishes of British Columbia. University of Alberta Press, AlbertaGoogle Scholar
  19. McPhail JD, Lindsey CC (1970) Freshwater fishes of northwestern Canada and Alaska. Fisheries Research Board of Canada, Bulletin 173Google Scholar
  20. Moritz C, Langham G, Kearny M, Krockenberger A, VanDerWal J, Williams S (2012) Integrating phylogeography and physiology reveals divergence of thermal traits between central and peripheral lineages of tropical rainforest lizards. Philos Trans R Soc B 367:1680–1687CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Nolte AW, Freyhof J, Stemshorn KC, Tautz D (2005a) An invasive lineage of sculpins, Cottus sp. (Pisces, Teleostei) in the Rhine with new habitat adaptations has originated from hybridization between old phylogeographic groups. Proc R Soc B 272:2379–2387PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Nolte AW, Stemshorn KC, Tautz D (2005b) Direct cloning of microsatellite loci from Cottus gobio through a simplified enrichment procedure. Mol Ecol Notes 5:628–636CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Nullmeier J, Hallatschek O (2013) The coalescent in boundary-limited range expansions. Evolution. doi: 10.1111/evo.12037
  24. Page RDM (1996) TREEVIEW: an application to display phylogenetic trees on personal computers. Comput Appl Biosci 12:357–358PubMedGoogle Scholar
  25. Pritchard JK, Stephens M, Donnelly P (2000) Inference of population structure using multilocus genotype data. Genetics 155:945–959PubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. Roberts WE (1990) The prickly sculpin (Cottus asper) recorded from Alberta (with a key to the sculpins found in Alberta). Alta Nat 20:24–26Google Scholar
  27. Sexton JP, McIntyre PJ, Angert AL, Rice KJ (2009) Evolution and ecology of species range limits. Annu Rev Ecol Evol Syst 40:415–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Short KH, Petren K (2011) Fine-scale genetic structure arises during range expansion of an invasive gecko. PLoS ONE 6:e26258. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026258 PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Vähä JP, Primmer CR (2006) Efficiency of model-based Bayesian methods for detecting hybrid individuals under different hybridisation scenarios and with different numbers of loci. Mol Ecol 15:63–72PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Van Oosterhout C, Hutchinson WF, Wills DPM, Shipley P (2004) MICRO-CHECKER: software for identifying and correcting genotyping errors in microsatellite data. Mol Ecol Notes 4:535–538CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Ward RD, Zemlak TS, Innes BH, Last PR, Hebert PDN (2005) DNA barcoding Australia’s fish species. Philos Trans R Soc B 360:1847–1857CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stefan Dennenmoser
    • 1
    Email author
  • Arne W. Nolte
    • 2
  • Steven M. Vamosi
    • 1
  • Sean M. Rogers
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, University of CalgaryCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Max-Planck Institute for Evolutionary BiologyPlönGermany

Personalised recommendations