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Keywords:

  • allozymes;
  • anadromous form;
  • gene flow;
  • genetic structure;
  • isolation by distance;
  • Salmo trutta

Abstract

Genetic variation at 33 protein loci was investigated in 41 wild brown trout populations from four river basins in Galicia (northwest Spain) to analyse the amount and distribution of genetic diversity in a marginal area, located in the distribution limit of the anadromous form of this species. The genetic diversity detected within populations (H between 0 and 6%) lies within the range quoted for this species in previous reports. The Miño, the most southern river basin analysed, showed a significantly lower genetic diversity and the highest genetic differentiation among the river basins studied. The hierarchical gene diversity analysis showed high population differentiation in a restricted area (GST = 27%), mostly due to differences among populations within basins (GSC = 22%). The reduction of GST observed when the isolated samples were excluded from the analysis (GST = 17%) showed the importance of habitat fragmentation on the heterogeneity detected. Gene flow among populations was comparatively evaluated by three indirect methods, which in general revealed low figures of absolute number of migrants per generation, slightly higher than 1. The gene flow among basins reflected a positive relationship with geographical distance. This trend was confirmed by the significant correlation observed between geographical and genetic distances, including all population pairs, which suggests a component of isolation by distance in brown trout genetic structure. Nevertheless, the nonsignificant intrabasin correlation demonstrates the complexity of genetic relationships among populations in this species. The model of genetic structure in brown trout is discussed in the light of the results obtained.