Population genetic structure, phylogeography and spawning philopatry in walleye (Stizostedion vitreum) from mitochondrial DNA control region sequences


C. A. Stepien Fax: +1-216-368-4672; E-mail: cas20@pop.cwru.edu


Mitochondrial (mt) DNA control region sequences were used to test the genetic and phylogeographic structure of walleye Stizostedion vitreum populations at different geographical scales: among spawning sites, lake basins, lakes, and putative glacial refugia in the Great Lakes region. Sequencing 199 walleye revealed nucleotide substitutions and tandemly repeated sequences that varied in copy number, as well as in sequence composition, in ≈ 1200 bp of the mtDNA control region. Variable numbers of copies of an 11-bp tandem repeat showed no geographical patterning and were not used in further analyses. Substitutions in the other areas of the control region yielded 19 haplotypes, revealing phylogeographic structure and significant differences among glacial refugia, lakes, basins and some spawning sites. Differences among spawning populations were consistent with reduced gene flow, philopatry and possible natal homing. Analysis of spawning populations showed consistency of genotypic frequencies among years and between males and females, supporting philopatry in both sexes. The unglaciated plateau in southern Ohio, USA housed a very different haplotype that diverged prior to the Missouri, Mississippi and Atlantic glacial refugia types. Haplotypes from the three refugia colonized the Great Lakes after retreat of the Wisconsin glaciers, and their present distribution reflects the geography of their prior isolation and differential colonization. Populations that became associated with spawning localities appear to have diverged further due to philopatry, resulting in fine-scale phylogeographic structuring.