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Establishment of a microsatellite genetic baseline for North American Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser o. oxyrhinchus) and range-wide analysis of population genetics

August 2, 2021

Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus) is a long-lived, anadromous species that is broadly distributed along the Atlantic coast of North America. Historic overharvest and habitat degradation resulted in significant declines to Atlantic sturgeon populations and, following decades of limited recovery, the species was listed under the Endangered Species Act of the United States in 2012. Given continued threats to recovery and limited information about population demography, there is a need for new tools to assist in Atlantic sturgeon conservation. Here, we present a range-wide microsatellite genetic baseline for North American Atlantic sturgeon that is comprised of 2510 individuals from 18 genetically distinct groups collected in 13 rivers and one estuary. Analysis of this baseline suggested that populations from the northern range of Atlantic sturgeon were more highly differentiated than those from the southern extent, where patterns of differentiation were complicated by rivers with genetically distinct spring and fall spawning runs and less geographic distance separating populations. Despite significant demographic bottleneck events, all populations showed at least moderate levels of genetic diversity across a suite of metrics. Additionally, individual-based assignment tests had over 80% accuracy for assigning individuals to their river of origin, highlighting the utility of this baseline for characterizing the composition of mixed-stock aggregations and understanding stock-specific vulnerability and recovery. The expanded spatial coverage of this baseline dataset enabled novel inferences about patterns of genetic differentiation and spawning phenology in Atlantic sturgeon which can be used to support conservation and management efforts.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2021
Title Establishment of a microsatellite genetic baseline for North American Atlantic sturgeon (Acipenser o. oxyrhinchus) and range-wide analysis of population genetics
DOI 10.1007/s10592-021-01390-x
Authors Shannon Lynn White, David Kazyak, Tanya L Darden, Daniel J Farrae, Barbara A. Lubinski, Robin Johnson, Michael Eackles, M Balazik, Hal Brundage, Adam G Fox, Dewayne A. Fox, Chris H Hager, Jason E Kahn, Isaac I Wirgin
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Conservation Genetics
Index ID 70222930
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Eastern Ecological Science Center