Combining genetic and demographic information to prioritize conservation efforts for anadromous alewife and blueback herring
Article first published online: 2 OCT 2013
© 2013 The Authors. Evolutionary Applications published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.
This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Volume 7, Issue 2, pages 212–226, February 2014
How to Cite
Palkovacs, E. P., Hasselman, D. J., Argo, E. E., Gephard, S. R., Limburg, K. E., Post, D. M., Schultz, T. F. and Willis, T. V. (2014), Combining genetic and demographic information to prioritize conservation efforts for anadromous alewife and blueback herring. Evolutionary Applications, 7: 212–226. doi: 10.1111/eva.12111
- Issue published online: 27 JAN 2014
- Article first published online: 2 OCT 2013
- Manuscript Accepted: 30 AUG 2013
- Manuscript Received: 2 MAY 2013
- National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
- distinct population segments;
- ecological restoration;
- population genetics;
- population trends;
- stock structure;
- time series
A major challenge in conservation biology is the need to broadly prioritize conservation efforts when demographic data are limited. One method to address this challenge is to use population genetic data to define groups of populations linked by migration and then use demographic information from monitored populations to draw inferences about the status of unmonitored populations within those groups. We applied this method to anadromous alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) and blueback herring (Alosa aestivalis), species for which long-term demographic data are limited. Recent decades have seen dramatic declines in these species, which are an important ecological component of coastal ecosystems and once represented an important fishery resource. Results show that most populations comprise genetically distinguishable units, which are nested geographically within genetically distinct clusters or stocks. We identified three distinct stocks in alewife and four stocks in blueback herring. Analysis of available time series data for spawning adult abundance and body size indicate declines across the US ranges of both species, with the most severe declines having occurred for populations belonging to the Southern New England and the Mid-Atlantic Stocks. While all alewife and blueback herring populations deserve conservation attention, those belonging to these genetic stocks warrant the highest conservation prioritization.