Document Type

Article

Original Publication Date

2017

Journal/Book/Conference Title

PLOS One

First Page

1

Last Page

8

DOI of Original Publication

10.1371/journal.pone.0179661

Comments

Originally published at https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0179661

Date of Submission

August 2017

Abstract

Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus, Acipenseridae) populations are currently at severely depleted levels due to historic overfishing, habitat loss, and pollution. The importance of biologically correct stock structure for effective conservation and management efforts is well known. Recent improvements in our understanding of Atlantic sturgeon migrations, movement, and the occurrence of putative dual spawning groups leads to questions regarding the true stock structure of this endangered species. In the James River, VA specifically, captures of spawning Atlantic sturgeon and accompanying telemetry data suggest there are two discrete spawning groups of Atlantic sturgeon. The two putative spawning groups were genetically evaluated using a powerful microsatellite marker suite to determine if they are genetically distinct. Specifically, this study evaluates the genetic structure, characterizes the genetic diversity, estimates effective population size, and measures inbreeding of Atlantic sturgeon in the James River. The results indicate that fall and spring spawning James River Atlantic sturgeon groups are genetically distinct (overall FST = 0.048, F’ST = 0.181) with little admixture between the groups. The observed levels of genetic diversity and effective population sizes along with the lack of detected inbreeding all indicated that the James River has two genetically healthy populations of Atlantic sturgeon. The study also demonstrates that samples from adult Atlantic sturgeon, with proper sample selection criteria, can be informative when creating reference population databases. The presence of two genetically-distinct spawning groups of Atlantic sturgeon within the James River raises concerns about the current genetic assignment used by managers. Other nearby rivers may also have dual spawning groups that either are not accounted for or are pooled in reference databases. Our results represent the second documentation of genetically distinct dual spawning groups of Atlantic sturgeon in river systems along the U.S. Atlantic coast, suggesting that current reference population database should be updated to incorporate both new samples and our increased understanding of Atlantic sturgeon life history.

Rights

Copyright: © 2017 Balazik et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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VCU Biology Publications

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