Evaluation of a remnant lake sturgeon population’s utility as a source for reintroductions in the Ohio River system

Research paper by Andrea M. Drauch, Brant E. Fisher, Emily K. Latch, Jennifer A. Fike, Olin E. Rhodes

Indexed on: 30 Oct '07Published on: 30 Oct '07Published in: Conservation Genetics


The selection of an appropriate source population may be crucial to the long-term success of reintroduction programs. Appropriate source populations often are those that originate from the same genetic lineage as native populations. However, source populations also should exhibit high levels of genetic diversity to maximize their capacity to adapt to variable environmental conditions. Finally, it is preferable if source populations are genetically representative of historical lineages with little or no contamination from non-native or domesticated stocks. Here, we use nuclear (microsatellite) and cytoplasmic (mitochondrial control region) markers to assess the genetic suitability of a potential source population inhabiting the White River in Indiana: the last extant lake sturgeon population in the Ohio River drainage. The White River population exhibited slightly lower levels of genetic diversity than other lake sturgeon populations. However, the population’s two private microsatellite alleles and three private haplotypes suggest a unique evolutionary trajectory. Population assignment tests revealed only two putative migrants in the White River, indicating the population has almost completely maintained its genetic integrity. Additionally, pairwise FST estimates indicated significant levels of genetic divergence between the White River and seven additional lake sturgeon populations, suggesting its genetic distinctiveness. These data indicate that the White River population may be the most suitable source population for future lake sturgeon reintroductions throughout the Ohio River drainage. Furthermore, the White River population appears to be a reservoir of unique genetic information and reintroduction may be a necessary strategy to ensure the persistence of this important genetic lineage.