The lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens) has recently become a high priority for restoration management because of the near extinction of the species from many areas of North America. The identification of the level of population differentiation that naturally exists among lake sturgeon populations will be useful in the development of management plans to conserve and restore diversity, and in the choice of donor populations to use for re-introduction. Genetic variation among and within 210 lake sturgeon collected from seven locations (St. Lawrence River, Des Prairies River (tributary to the St. Lawrence River), Mattagami River (Hudson Bay drainage), Menominee River (Lake Michigan drainage), Wolf River (Lake Michigan drainage), Niagara River, and Lake Erie) was examined based on allelic variation at seven microsatellite loci (four disomic and three putative tetrasomic). High levels of variability were detected at these loci. Analyses revealed an average of 8.6 alleles per locus (range 5 to 12 alleles per locus) and heterozygosity values at the four disomic loci ranging from 0.46 to 0.66. Multivariate factor analysis of Nei's genetic distance values produced three distinct population groups that were organized by geography: 1) Mattagami (northern Quebec), 2) Menominee/ Wolf (Lake Michigan - Wisconsin), and 3) St. Lawrence/ Des Prairies/ Niagara/ Erie (lower Great Lakes). Differences based on G-tests summed over all loci occurred between all possible paired comparisons of the collections (P < 0.01). These analyses indicated that lake sturgeon populations are differentiated within the Great Lakes basin. Managers of this species will need to identify individual populations in their jurisdictions and provide separate consideration for their conservation and rehabilitation.
Additional publication details
Genetic comparison of lake sturgeon populations: Differentiation based on allelic frequencies at seven microsatellite loci