We investigated the conservation of genetic diversity during a restoration program for American shad (Alosa sapidissima) in Virginia (U.S.A.). Restoration entailed capture of wild Pamunkey River shad broodstock followed by production and release of hatchery-reared fry to supplement the nearly extinct James River shad population. To assess the baseline genetic diversity of donor and recipient populations, we used five tri- and tetra-nucleotide microsatellite loci to test for genetic heterogeneity among yearly subsamples from both rivers and between early- and late-spawning shad from the donor population. Tests for allelic heterogeneity between James River and Pamunkey shad subsamples yielded no significant genetic differentiation (χ2 = 14. 72, p = 0.132 and χ2 = 10.24, p = 0.440, respectively). We detected no significant genetic divergence between early- and late-spawning adults in Pamunkey River spawning aggregations in either year. The donor and recipient populations exhibited significant genetic differentiation (χ2 = 27.4, p = 0.003), however, indicating that the stocking program carries a risk of outbreeding depression. Because the two river populations are genetically divergent, replenishment of the James population with Pamunkey fry may be detectable in the future as heterozygote deficits and linkage disequilibria in the James River population. In an analysis of broodstock and their hatchery-reared progeny, microsatellites proved efficient for family analysis, unambiguously determining the parentage of 100% of the hatchery-reared fry studied. Genetic analysis indicated that breeding procedures may result in high levels of reproductive variance.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Nature and Landscape Conservation