Marine Biotechnology

, 9:33 | Cite as

Population Genetic Structuring in Acanthopagrus butcheri (Pisces: Sparidae): Does Low Gene Flow Among Estuaries Apply to Both Sexes?

  • Christopher P. BurridgeEmail author
  • Vincent L. Versace
Original Article


Acanthopagrus butcheri completes its entire life history within estuaries and coastal lakes of southern Australia, although adults occasionally move between estuaries via the sea. Consequently, it is expected that populations of A. butcheri in different estuaries will be genetically distinct, with the magnitude of genetic divergence increasing with geographic isolation. However, previous genetic studies of A. butcheri from southeast Australia yielded conflicting results; allozyme variation exhibited minimal spatial structuring (θ = 0.012), whereas mitochondrial DNA distinguished the majority of populations analyzed (θ = 0.263) and genetic divergence was positively correlated with geographic isolation. This discrepancy could reflect high male gene flow, which impacts nuclear but not mitochondrial markers. Here we estimated allele frequencies at five nuclear microsatellite loci across 11 southeast Australian populations (595 individuals). Overall structuring of microsatellite variation was weaker (θ = 0.088) than that observed for mitochondrial DNA, but was able to distinguish a greater number of populations and was positively correlated with geographic distance. Therefore, we reject high male gene flow and invoke a stepping-stone model of infrequent gene flow among estuaries for both sexes. Likewise, management of A. butcheri within the study range should be conducted at the scale of individual or geographically proximate estuaries for both sexes. The lack of allozyme structuring in southeast Australia reflects either the large variance in structuring expected among loci under neutral conditions and the low number of allozymes surveyed or a recent colonization of estuaries such that some but not all nuclear loci have approached migration-drift equilibrium.


Isolation by distance microsatellite migration-drift equilibrium sea level selection stepping stone 



Funding for the project was provided via a School of Life and Environmental Sciences grant to CPB. Prof. Chris Austin (Charles Darwin University) initiated genetic research of this species at Deakin University. We thank Patrick Coutin (Primary Industries Research Victoria) and Adrian Arkinstall, VICTAG Coordinator, Australian National Sportfishing Association, for assistance with the collection of samples. Devon Keeney (Otago University) and past and present members of the Molecular Ecology and Biodiversity Laboratory, Deakin University, made comments that improved the manuscript. Peter Unmack (University of Oklahoma) generously provided the template for Figure 1. The experiments described herein comply with the current Australian laws, and were approved by the Animal Ethics Committee of Deakin University.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christopher P. Burridge
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Vincent L. Versace
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Life and Environmental SciencesDeakin UniversityWarrnamboolAustralia
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

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