Glacial biogeography of North American coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch)


Dr B. Koop. Fax: (250) 472-4075; E-mail:


To study the glacial biogeography of coho we examined 20 microsatellite loci and mitochondrial DNA D-loop sequence in samples from Alaska to California. Microsatellite data divided our samples among five biogeographic regions: (1) Alaska and northern coastal British Columbia; (2) the Queen Charlotte Islands; (3) the mainland coast of British Columbia and northern Washington State; (4) the Thompson River; and (5) Oregon and California. The D-loop sequence data suggested three geographical regions: (1) Oregon and California; (2) the Thompson River; and (3) all the other sites north of the southern ice margin. Microsatellite data revealed no difference in the number of alleles in different regions, but mitochondrial DNA data revealed a cline of decreasing diversity from south to north. We suggest that the two signals presented by these different marker types illuminate two time frames in the history of this species. Endemic microsatellite diversity in Alaska and on the Queen Charlotte Islands provides evidence in favour of Fraser Glaciation refugia in these regions. The loss of mitochondrial variation from south to north suggests that one of the earlier, more extensive, Pleistocene glaciations eliminated coho from its northern range.