Endemic to the Apalachicola River basin of the southeastern USA, the Shoal Bass Micropterus cataractae is a fluvial‐specialist sport fish that is imperiled because of anthropogenic habitat alteration. To counter population declines, restorative stocking efforts are becoming an increasingly relevant management strategy. However, population genetic structure within the species is currently unknown, but it could influence management decisions, such as brood source location. Leveraging a collaborative effort to collect and genotype specimens with 16 microsatellite loci, our objective was to characterize hierarchical population structure and genetic differentiation of the Shoal Bass across its native range, including an examination of structuring mechanisms, such as relatedness and inbreeding levels. Specimens identified as Shoal Bass were collected from 13 distinct sites (N ranged from 17 to 209 per location) and were then taxonomically screened to remove nonnative congeners and hybrids (pure Shoal Bass N ranged from 13 to 183 per location). Our results revealed appreciable population structure, with five distinct Shoal Bass populations identifiable at the uppermost hierarchical level that generally corresponded with natural geographic features and anthropogenic barriers. Substructure was recovered within several of these populations, wherein differences appeared related to spatial isolation and local population dynamics. An analysis of molecular variance revealed that 3.6% of the variation in our data set was accounted for among three larger river drainages, but substructure within each river drainage also explained an additional 8.9% of genetic variation, demonstrating that management at a scale lower than the river drainage level would likely best conserve genetic diversity. Results provide a population genetic framework that can inform future management decisions, such as brood source location, so that genetic diversity within and among populations is conserved and overall adaptability of the species is maintained.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Genetic population structure of Shoal Bass within their native range|
|Series title||North American Journal of Fisheries Management|
|Contributing office(s)||Coop Res Unit Atlanta|
|Other Geospatial||Apalachicola–Chattahoochee–Flint River Basin|