Research Document - 2002/109

Population structure of herring (Clupea pallasi) in British Columbia determined by microsatellites, with comparisons to southeast Alaska and California

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

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine population structure of herring (Clupea pallasi) in British Columbia by analyzing microsatellite variation. Variation at 13 loci (Cpa6, Cpa27, Cha63, Cpa100, Cpa103, Cpa104, Cpa107, Cpa107a, Cha113, Cpa114, Cpa115, Cpa125, Cpa134) was surveyed in approximately 20,000 herring from 78 sampling locations. FST estimates by locus varied between 0.0006 and 0.0093, with the mean over all loci of 0.0032. 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. No substructure was observed in west coast Queen Charlotte Islands herring, but herring in Louscoone Inlet at the extreme south west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands may be distinct from herring in the east coast management unit. No convincing evidence of substructure was observed in either the North Coast or Central Coast stocks. No significant substructure was observed in herring in Johnstone Strait, although there is potential for herring spawning in the mainland inlets in the region to be distinct. In the Strait of Georgia, there was no evidence of substructure within the stock spawning along the east coast of Vancouver Island between Comox and Nanaimo. Herring spawning in Esquimault Harbour were distinct from the Strait of Georgia stock, and herring spawning in Secret Cove along the mainland coast may be distinct. 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. On a regional basis, herring in Johnstone Strait were distinct from those in other regions of British Columbia, but there was, on average, no significant differentiation between east and west coast Vancouver Island populations, or among Queen Charlotte Islands, North Coast, and Central Coast populations. 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 are distinct from those spawning further south on the Queen Charlotte Islands and in the north coast of British Columbia. Herring spawning in California are distinct from those spawning in southern 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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