Genetic relationships among lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) spawning aggregates in Lake Michigan were assessed and used to predict a stock or management unit (MU) model for the resource. We hypothesized that distinct spawning aggregates represented potential MUs and that differences at molecular markers underlie population differentiation. Genetic stock identification using 11 microsatellite loci indicated the presence of six genetic MUs. Resolved MUs corresponded to geographically proximate spawning aggregates clustering into genetic groups. Within MUs, analyses suggested that all but one delineated MU was a stable grouping (i.e., no between-population differences), with the exception being the Hog Island - Traverse Bay grouping. Elk Rapids was the most genetically divergent population within Lake Michigan. However, low F st values suggested that moderate to high levels of gene flow occur or have occurred in the past between MUs. Significant tests of isolation by distance and low pairwise Fst values potentially led to conflicting results between traditional analyses and a Bayesian approach. This data set could provide baseline data from which a comprehensive mixed-stock analysis could be performed, allowing for more efficient and effective management of this economically and socially important resource.
Additional Publication Details
Genetic structure of lake whitefish (Coregonus clupeaformis) in Lake Michigan
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences