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A population on the rise: The origin of deepwater sculpin in Lake Ontario

May 24, 2017

Deepwater sculpin, Myoxocephalus thompsonii, were thought to have been extirpated from Lake Ontario. However, in recent years, abundance has increased and recruitment has been documented. There are two hypotheses concerning the origin of the current Lake Ontario deepwater sculpin population. First, individuals from the upper Great Lakes may have recolonized Lake Ontario. Alternatively, the Lake Ontario population may have not been extirpated, and the remnant population has recovered naturally. To test these hypotheses, eight microsatellite loci were used to analyze samples from the current Lake Ontario population, museum specimens from the historic Lake Ontario population, and current upper Great Lakes populations. The genetic data suggest that historically throughout the Great Lakes, deepwater sculpin exhibited low levels of spatial genetic structure. Approximate Bayesian Computation analyses support the hypothesis that the current Lake Ontario population is more closely related to populations in the upper Great Lakes than to the historic Lake Ontario samples, indicating that the current Lake Ontario population likely resulted from recolonization from the Upper Great Lakes. The current Lake Ontario population has reduced allelic diversity relative to upper Great Lakes populations, indicating a possible founder effect. This study demonstrates the role life history variation can play in recolonization success. The pelagic larval phase of the deepwater sculpin allowed recolonization of Lake Ontario via passive larval drift.

Publication Year 2017
Title A population on the rise: The origin of deepwater sculpin in Lake Ontario
DOI 10.1016/j.jglr.2017.04.009
Authors Amy B. Welsh, Kim T. Scribner, Wendylee Stott, Maureen Walsh
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Great Lakes Research
Index ID 70187891
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Great Lakes Science Center