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Genetic structure of a disjunct peripheral population of mountain sucker Pantosteus jordani in the Black Hills, South Dakota, USA

Bertrand, Katie N., VanDeHey, Justin A., Pilger, Tyler J., Felts, Eli A., Turner, Thomas F.
Conservation genetics 2016 v.17 no.4 pp. 775-784
Catostomus platyrhynchus, fish, gene flow, gene frequency, genetic drift, genetic markers, genetic variation, habitats, inbreeding, microsatellite repeats, population size, population structure, streams, surveys, Black Hills region, South Dakota
A peripheral population of mountain sucker, Pantosteus jordani, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, USA, represents the eastern-most range of the species and is completely isolated from other populations. Over the last 50 years, mountain sucker populations have declined in the Black Hills, and now only occur in 40 % of the historic local range, with densities decreasing by more than 84 %.We used microsatellite DNA markers to estimate genetic diversity and to assess population structure across five streams where mountain suckers persist. We evaluated results in the context of recent ecological surveys to inform decisions about mountain sucker conservation. Significant allele frequency differences existed among sample streams (Global FST = 0.041) but there was no evidence of isolation by distance. Regionally, genetic effective size, Nₑ, was estimated to be at least 338 breeding individuals, but Nₑ within streams was expected to be less. Despite almost complete demographic isolation and reduced population size, there appears to be little evidence of inbreeding, but genetic drift and local isolation due to fragmentation probably best explains genetic structure in this peripheral mountain sucker population. Recommended strategies for population enhancement include restoration of stream connectivity and habitat improvement. Moreover, repatriation and assisted movement (i.e., gene flow) of fishes should maximize genetic diversity in stream fragments in the Black Hills region.