Genetic diversity and population structure of the northern snakehead (Channa argus Channidae: Teleostei) in central China: implications for conservation and management
Major threats to freshwater fish diversity now include loss of native genetic diversity as a consequence of translocations of fishes between sites and from hatcheries to sites, and small effective population sizes resulting from overfishing and/or habitat loss. Ten polymorphic microsatellite markers were employed to evaluate genetic diversity, population genetic structure and gene flow amongst nine populations of the ecologically and economically important fish, the northern snakehead (Channa argus), in three river systems in central China. Multiple analyses revealed evidence of high genetic diversity and pronounced subdivision based on both regional separation and on river systems. A lack of evidence of genetic bottleneck over recent generations was consistent with the long-term stability of population size and contemporary distribution. The effective population sizes for most C. argus populations were small, suggesting the need for future conservation efforts focusing on these populations. Different lines of evidence point to the local enhancement of stocks by both aquaculture-reared fish and the transfer of wild fish. This study illustrates how human activities may affect genetic diversity and population genetic structure of C. argus populations, and highlights the need for new management regimes to protect native freshwater fish genetic diversity.
KeywordsGenetic diversity Microsatellites Channa argus Human-mediated transport Yangtze-Huai-Huang river system
We thank Tian-Xi Fu and Hai-Ping Chen for assistance with sample collection. This work was supported by the Scientific Research Foundation for the Introduction of High-level Talents, Huazhong Agricultural University (Grant No. 2012RC012) and by the National Key Technology R&D Program (Grant No. 2012BAD26B03).
Compliance with ethical standards
No specific permits were required for the field studies described here. We confirm that the study locations were not privately owned or protected, and the field sampling activities did not involve endangered or protected species beyond the focal species. All animal research protocols were approved by the Animal Research Oversight Committee of Huazhong Agricultural University (HZAU) and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of HZAU, the methods were carried out in accordance with the approved guidelines.
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