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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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Abstract

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.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Melbourne Water Corporation for funding this research. Thanks also to members of CESAR for ongoing assistance, particularly Nancy Endersby, Andrew Weeks, Paul Mitrovski, Paul Umina and Rob Good for advice on laboratory methods, and Andrew Weeks, Mark Blacket and Elise Furlan for advice on data analysis. Thanks to Edward Tsyrlin and to Megan, James and Harry Coleman for assistance in the field and to Peter Unmack and Michael Hammer for correspondence regarding the progress and outcomes of their dwarf galaxias study. Adam Mattinson is thanked for his assistance with the map and finally, thanks to John McGuckin and Ron Lewis for ongoing practical discussions regarding survey techniques and potential survey locations. Constructive comments on a draft of this manuscript from three reviewers (including Chris Burridge) are also greatly appreciated. Research was carried out with Melbourne University animal ethics approval (AEC 0705391) and relevant State research permits for threatened species, national parks and fisheries permits for South Australia (PIRSA 9902114), Victoria (DPI RP916, DSE 10004233) and Tasmania (IFS 2008-7, TFA 08090).

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See Tables 4 and 5.

Table 4 FST values for pairwise comparisons (below the diagonal) and geographic distance (km) (above the diagonal) between Galaxiella pusilla populations
Table 5 Kimura 2-parameter distances for Galaxiella pusilla populations based on a 582 bp fragment of the cytochrome c oxidase subunit 1 mitochondrial DNA gene

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Coleman, R.A., Pettigrove, V., Raadik, T.A. et al. 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. Conserv Genet 11, 1911–1928 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-010-0082-z

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