We combined data from two laboratories to increase the spatial extent of a genetic data set for lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis from lakes Huron and Michigan and saw that genetic diversity was greatest between lakes, but that there was also structuring within lakes. Low diversity among stocks may be a reflection of relatively recent colonization of the Great Lakes, but other factors such as recent population fluctuation and localized stresses such as lamprey predation or heavy exploitation may also have a homogenizing effect. Our data suggested that there is asymmetrical movement of lake whitefish between Lake Huron and Lake Michigan; more genotypes associated with Lake Michigan were observed in Lake Huron. Adding additional collections to the calibrated set will allow further examination of diversity in other Great Lakes, answer questions regarding movement among lakes, and estimate contributions of stocks to commercial yields. As the picture of genetic diversity and population structure of lake whitefish in the Great Lakes region emerges, we need to develop methods to combine data types to help identify important areas for biodiversity and thus conservation. Adding genetic data to existing models will increase the precision of predictions of the impacts of new stresses and changes in existing pressures on an ecologically and commercially important species.
Additional publication details
Genetic diversity of lake whitefish in lakes Michigan and Huron: sampling, standardization, and research priorities
Journal of Great Lakes Research
International Association for Great Lakes Research