Efforts over several decades to restore lake trout Salvelinus namaycush in U.S. waters of the upper Great Lakes have emphasized the stocking of juveniles from each of six hatchery broodstocks. Retention of genetic diversity across all offspring life history stages throughout the hatchery system has been an important component of the restoration hatchery and stocking program. Different stages of the lake trout hatchery program were examined to determine how effective hatchery practices have been in minimizing the loss of genetic diversity in broodstock adults and in progeny stocked. Microsatellite loci were used to estimate allele frequencies, measures of genetic diversity, and relatedness for wild source populations, hatchery broodstocks, and juveniles. We also estimated the effective number of breeders for each broodstock. Hatchery records were used to track destinations of fertilized eggs from all spawning dates to determine whether adult contributions to stocking programs were proportional to reproductive effort. Overall, management goals of maintaining genetic diversity were met across all stages of the hatchery program; however, we identified key areas where changes in mating regimes and in the distribution of fertilized gametes and juveniles could be improved. Estimates of effective breeding population size (Nb) were 9-41% of the total number of adults spawned. Low estimates of Nb were primarily attributed to spawning practices, including the pooling of gametes from multiple males and females and the reuse of males. Nonrandom selection and distribution of fertilized eggs before stocking accentuated declines in effective breeding population size and increased levels of relatedness of juveniles distributed to different rearing facilities and stocking locales. Adoption of guidelines that decrease adult reproductive variance and promote more equitable reproductive contributions of broodstock adults to juveniles would further enhance management goals of maintaining genetic diversity and minimize probabilities of consanguineous matings among stocked individuals when sexually mature. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.
Additional publication details
Genetic evaluation of a Great Lakes lake trout hatchery program