Research Document - 2001/128

Population structure of herring (Clupea pallasi) in British Columbia: an analysis using microsatellite loci

By Beacham, T.D., Schweigert, J.F., MacConnachie, C., Le, K.K., Labaree, K., and K.M. Miller

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine population structure of herring (Clupea pallasi) in British Columbia. Variation at 15 microsatellite loci (Cpa4, Cpa6, Cpa8, Cpa27, Cha63, Cpa100, Cpa103, Cpa104, Cpa107, Cpa107a, Cha113, Cpa114, Cpa115, Cpa125, Cpa134) was surveyed in approximately 11,000 herring from 65 sampling locations. FST estimates by locus varied between 0.0005 and 0.0073, with the mean over all loci of 0.0023. Other than for herring spawning in Skidegate Inlet, there was no evidence of substructure for herring along the east coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands. In the Strait of Georgia, there was no evidence of substructure within the stock except possibly for herring spawning in Secret Cove along the mainland coast and Esquimault Harbour (Portage Inlet) at Victoria. Strait of Georgia herring were distinct from those spawning at Cherry Point in Puget Sound, Washington. No evidence of substructure was observed in the west coast of Vancouver Island stock, although herring spawning in Winter Harbour may be distinct from those spawning further south along the coast. No evidence of substructure was observed in either the North Coast or Central Coast stocks. Annual variation in allele frequencies within the five stocks of herring in British Columbia defined for assessment and management was larger than any differences among stocks, and thus, on average, there is no genetic differentiation among the five defined stocks. The lack of genetic differentiation among herring stocks in British Columbia is consistent with straying rates among stocks that is sufficient to homogenize allele frequencies over broad areas. Herring spawning in southeast Alaska may be distinct from those spawning further south on the Queen Charlotte Islands and in the north coast of British Columbia. For locations where genetically distinct populations occur, differences in timing of spawning are the main isolating mechanisms, although geographic isolation of the spawning population may also have some effect in maintaining genetic distinctiveness of the spawning population.

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