ESR 16:65-75 (2012)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00387

Genetic techniques inform conservation aquaculture of the endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus

A. Drauch Schreier1,*, J. Rodzen2, S. Ireland3, B. May

1Department of Animal Science, University of California Davis, Davis, California 95616, USA
2Sacramento County District Attorney, Forensic Services Laboratory, Sacramento, California 95820, USA
3Kootenai Tribe of Idaho, Bonners Ferry, Idaho 83805, USA

ABSTRACT: Large river-resident and diadromous fishes are globally threatened by environmental degradation, overharvest, and a rapidly changing climate. Conservation aquaculture is a tool that, used in concert with ecological restoration and harvest regulation, can protect the unique genetic, morphological, and behavioral characteristics of imperiled populations. Although conservation aquaculture programs are designed to minimize genetic impacts on wild populations, founder effects, domestication, and inbreeding may occur. Genetic monitoring may be used in the context of adaptive management to reduce deleterious genetic impacts of captive breeding in wild populations. Here we use the conservation aquaculture program for the endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus as a case study to illustrate how genetic tools might improve captive breeding programs for large river fishes. We used microsatellite markers to reveal very low levels of genetic diversity in the Kootenai River white sturgeon relative to other populations across the species’ range. We show that by using high numbers of broodstock, the conservation aquaculture program has captured 96% of the population’s microsatellite diversity in hatchery-released progeny in only 10 yr. We validate the power of parentage analysis to identify family relationships between individual white sturgeon using a panel of 18 microsatellite loci. Parentage analysis will become crucial for inbreeding avoidance in the Kootenai River white sturgeon aquaculture program in ~2020 to 2030, when the majority of broodstock available for captive breeding will originate from the hatchery.


KEY WORDS: White sturgeon · Conservation aquaculture · Genetic monitoring · Microsatellite markers


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Cite this article as: Drauch Schreier A, Rodzen J, Ireland S, May B (2012) Genetic techniques inform conservation aquaculture of the endangered Kootenai River white sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus. Endang Species Res 16:65-75. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00387

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