Genetic Population Structure of US Atlantic Coastal Striped Bass (Morone saxatilis)

DT Gauthier
CA Audemard
JEL Carlsson
TL Darden
MR Denson
Et al.

Abstract

Genetic population structure of anadromous striped bass along the US Atlantic coast was analyzed using 14 neutral nuclear DNA microsatellites. Young-of-the-year and adult striped bass (n = 1114) were sampled from Hudson River, Delaware River, Chesapeake Bay, North Carolina, and South Carolina. Analyses indicated clear population structure with significant genetic differentiation between all regions. Global multilocus F-ST was estimated at 0.028 (P < 0.001). Population structure followed an isolation-by-distance model and temporal sampling indicated a stable population structure more than 2 years at all locations. Significant structure was absent within Hudson River, whereas weak but significant genetic differences were observed between northern and southern samples in Chesapeake Bay. The largest and smallest effective striped bass population sizes were found in Chesapeake Bay and South Carolina, respectively. Coalescence analysis indicated that the highest historical gene flow has been between Chesapeake Bay and Hudson River populations, and that exchange has not been unidirectional. Bayesian analysis of contemporary migration indicated that Chesapeake Bay serves as a major source of migrants for Atlantic coastal regions from Albemarle Sound northward. In addition to examining population genetic structure, the data acquired during this project were capable of serving as a baseline for assigning fish with unknown origin to source region.