Retention of Ancestral Genetic Variation Across Life-Stages of an Endangered, Long-Lived Iteroparous Fish

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Abstract

As with many endangered, long-lived iteroparous fishes, survival of razorback sucker depends on a management strategy that circumvents recruitment failure that results from predation by non-native fishes. In Lake Mohave, AZ-NV, management of razorback sucker centers on capture of larvae spawned in the lake, rearing them in off-channel habitats, and subsequent release (“repatriation”) to the lake when adults are sufficiently large to resist predation. The effects of this strategy on genetic diversity, however, remained uncertain. After correction for differences in sample size among groups, metrics of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA; number of haplotypes, NH, and haplotype diversity, HD) and microsatellite (number of alleles, NA, and expected heterozygosity, HE) diversity did not differ significantly between annual samples of repatriated adults and larval year-classes or among pooled samples of repatriated adults, larvae, and wild fish. These findings indicate that the current management program thus far maintained historical genetic variation of razorback sucker in the lake. Because effective population size, Ne, is closely tied to the small census population size (Nc = ~1500–3000) of razorback sucker in Lake Mohave, this population will remain at risk from genetic, as well as demographic risk of extinction unless Nc is increased substantially.

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