An examination of spatial and temporal genetic variation in walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) using allozyme, mitochondrial DNA, and microsatellite data


Olsen, Jeffrey B., Susan E. Merkouris, and James E. Seeb
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We used allozyme, microsatellite, and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) data to test for spatial and interannual genetic diversity in walleye pollock (Theragra chalcogramma) from six spawning aggregations representing three geographic regions: Gulf of Alaska, eastern Bering Sea, and eastern Kamchatka. Interpopulation genetic diversity was evident primarily from the mtDNA and two allozyme loci (SOD-2*, MPI*). Permutation tests ˆ indicated that FST values for most allozyme and microsatellite loci were not significantly greater than zero. The microsatellite results suggested that high locus polymorphism may not be a reliable indicator of power for detecting population differentiation in walleye pollock. The fact that mtDNA revealed population structure and most nuclear loci did not suggests that the effective size of most walleye pollock populations is large (genetic drift is weak) and migration is a relatively strong homogenizing force. The allozymes and mtDNA provided mostly concordant estimates of patterns of spatial genetic variation. These data showed significant genetic variation between North American and Asian populations. In addition, two spawning aggregations in the Gulf of Alaska, in Prince William Sound, and off Middleton Island, appeared genetically distinct from walleye pollock spawning in the Shelikof Strait and may merit management as a distinct stock. Finally, we found evidence of interannual genetic variation in two of three North American spawning aggregations, similar in magnitude to the spatial variation among North American walleye pollock. We suggest that interannual genetic variation in walleye pollock may be indicative of one or more of the following factors: highly variable reproductive success, adult philopatry, source-sink metapopulation structure, and intraannual variation (days) in spawning timing among genetically distinct but spatially identical spawning aggregates.