Imperiled Okaloosa darters (Etheostoma okaloosae) are small, benthic fish limited to six streams that flow into three bayous of Choctawhatchee Bay in northwest Florida, USA. We analyzed the complete mitochondrial cytochrome b gene and 10 nuclear microsatellite loci for 255 and 273 Okaloosa darters, respectively. Bayesian clustering analyses and AMOVA reflect congruent population genetic structure in both mitochondrial and microsatellite DNA. This structure reveals historical isolation of Okaloosa darter streams nested within bayous. Most of the six streams appear to have exchanged migrants though they remain genetically distinct. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently reclassified Okaloosa darters from endangered to threatened status. Our genetic data support the reclassification of Okaloosa darter Evolutionary Significant Units (ESUs) in the larger Tom’s, Turkey, and Rocky creeks from endangered to threatened status. However, the three smaller drainages (Mill, Swift, and Turkey Bolton creeks) remain at risk due to their small population sizes and anthropogenic pressures on remaining habitat. Natural resource managers now have the evolutionary information to guide recovery actions within and among drainages throughout the range of the Okaloosa darter.
|Title||Population genetic structure and conservation genetics of threatened Okaloosa darters (Etheostoma okaloosae)|
|Authors||James D. Austin, Howard L. Jelks, Bill Tate, Aria R. Johnson, Frank Jordan|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Conservation Genetics|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Southeast Ecological Science Center|