Relationships among walleye population characteristics and genetic diversity in northern Wisconsin Lakes

Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
By: , and 



The maintenance of genetic integrity is an important goal of fisheries management, yet little is known regarding the effects of management actions (e.g., stocking, harvest regulations) on the genetic diversity of many important fish species. Furthermore, relationships between population characteristics and genetic diversity remain poorly understood. We examined relationships among population demographics (abundance, recruitment, sex ratio, and mean age of the breeding population), stocking intensity, and genetic characteristics (heterozygosity, effective number of alleles, allelic richness, Wright's inbreeding coefficient, effective population size [Ne], mean d2 [a measure of inbreeding], mean relatedness, and pairwise population ΦST estimates) for 15 populations of Walleye Sander vitreus in northern Wisconsin. We also tested for potential demographic and genetic influences on Walleye body condition and early growth. Combinations of demographic variables explained 47.1–79.8% of the variation in genetic diversity. Skewed sex ratios contributed to a reduction in Ne and subsequent increases in genetic drift and relatedness among individuals within populations; these factors were correlated to reductions in allelic richness and early growth rate. Levels of inbreeding were negatively related to both age-0 abundance and mean age, suggesting Ne was influenced by recruitment and generational overlap. A negative relationship between the effective number of alleles and body condition suggests stocking affected underlying genetic diversity of recipient populations and the overall productivity of the population. These relationships may result from poor performance of stocked fish, outbreeding depression, or density-dependent factors. An isolation-by-distance pattern of genetic diversity was apparent in nonstocked populations, but was disrupted in stocked populations, suggesting that stocking affected genetic structure. Overall, demographic factors were related to genetic diversity and stocking appeared to alter allelic frequencies and the genetic structure of Walleye populations in Wisconsin, possibly resulting in disruption of local adaptation.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Relationships among walleye population characteristics and genetic diversity in northern Wisconsin Lakes
Series title Transactions of the American Fisheries Society
DOI 10.1080/00028487.2014.880742
Volume 143
Issue 3
Year Published 2014
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Contributing office(s) Coop Res Unit Leetown
Description 13 p.
First page 744
Last page 756
Country United States
State Wisconsin
County Oneida County, Vilas County
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