Riverscape Genomics of Golden Mahseer in Bhutan: A Journey Back to the Headwaters?

Marlis R. Douglas, Karma Wangchuk, Julie Claussen, David P. Philipp, Max Bangs, Tyler K. Chafin, Michael E. Douglas

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The Kingdom of Bhutan is a small country in the Himalayas of central Asia with a landscape defined by steep elevation gradients, making it particularly vulnerable to effects of climate change. Bhutan has dedicated >60% of its land to conservation, but its native fishes are enigmatic, and their distributions and conservation status virtually unknown. A recent study by the Royal Government of Bhutan, its Ministry of Agriculture and Forests, World Wildlife Fund-Bhutan, and the Fisheries Conservation Foundation, have radio-tagged adult Golden Mahseer (Tor putitora) to study movements in these large-river fishes. Initial data suggest extensive, post-monsoonal migrations with spawning occurring in smaller tributaries. Our genetic analysis complements the tracking data and examines fine-scale population structure in Golden Mahseer in Bhutan. A reduced-representation library approach (ddRADseq – double-digest Restriction Associate DNA sequencing) was used to generate 40,000 SNP loci to determine local gene pools and assess relatedness amongst adults known to repeatedly migrate to the same tributaries each year. Our results provide an important baseline to sustainably develop hydropower for the economic benefit of the Bhutanese people, while at the same time assuring that relevant data are available to make sound management decisions to assure long-term conservation of Bhutan’s native fishes.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAFS - 147th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society, August 20-24, 2017, Tampa, Florida
StatePublished - 2017


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