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Genetic implications of translocation and stocking of fish species, with particular reference to Western Australia

Cross, T.F.
Aquaculture research 2000 v.31 no.1 pp. 83-94
agricultural programs and projects, breeding, fish, strains, strain differences, introduced species, genetic variation, founder effect, population genetics, sex ratio, wild animals, hybridization, molecular genetics, animal genetic resources, microsatellite repeats, genetic markers, loci, mortality, adaptation, mitochondrial DNA, allozymes, fish culture, transgenic animals, animal breeding, species differences, fisheries management, population, Western Australia
Species or strains of fish may be translocated for farming, where the only access to the wild is via inadvertent escapes, or for stocking, where deliberate releases are undertaken. In either case, it is important that the translocated animals are representative of the donor population(s) in terms of genetic composition and level of variability. Many studies have shown that this ideal is difficult to achieve, the major reason being the use of inadequate numbers or composition of broodstock as founders of a strain. Also, where more than one conspecific population is involved, there may be outbreeding depression problems. In the case of farming, measures to improve the introduced strain genetically are likely to be undertaken, e.g. breeding programmes, manipulation of sex and ploidy, transgenic techniques. Such approaches are necessary economically, but can alter genetic make-up. Thus, stringent attempts must be made to minimize escapes or reduce their impact should they occur. With stocking, genetic change during captive rearing should be avoided. No strain manipulation should be undertaken, and other agents of change should be minimized. Stocking may result in hybridization with related species or with endemic populations of the same species. In either case, there can be detrimental genetic effects on the native forms. To be able to identify subsequently any genetic changes in reared strains, where intended for farming or stocking, wild population composition should be determined, using appropriate molecular techniques. Such molecular methods will demonstrate the degree of interpopulation differentiation and, thus, reproductive isolation. The same markers should then be used in each subsequent generation (in the hatchery and after escape or reintroduction to the wild) to monitor any changes in genetic composition or variability. Markers should include microsatellite DNA loci, but the inclusion of more than one type of marker is recommended. However, as the aforementioned markers are not considered to be influenced by natural selection, they give no information on the adaptive nature of such differences. For this reason, it is suggested that markers influenced by selection should be investigated. Monitoring a strain subsequent to deliberate or inadvertent release can be undertaken using genetic markers, either deliberately enhanced by breeding or occurring naturally. Highly variable minisatellite DNA loci have been used as family markers in farmed escape studies with Atlantic salmon. These investigations have demonstrated significantly superior survival of native strains compared with farmed salmon in natural stream conditions. These latter results, demonstrating fitness differences, were strongly indicative of local adaptation. Thus, methods exist to monitor the genetic effects of translocation and stocking. However, a holistic approach should be taken to such exercises, where genetics forms part of a wider suite of considerations.