A comparison of genetic diversity levels in marine, freshwater, and anadromous fishes



Electrophoretic data were analysed from 49 species of freshwater fish, 57 species of marine fish, and seven anadromous species. For each species, at least 15 individuals had been assayed for at least 15 loci in two or more subpopulations. The results showed that while average total heterozygosity (T) was approximately equal in freshwater and marine species (0·062 and 0·064 respectively), subpopulation heterozygosity (s) was significantly less in the former group (0·046 and 0·059 respectively). Consequently the average degree of genetic subpopulation differentiation (ST) was significantly greater for freshwater species (0·222 v. 0·062). On average, it is likely that marine subpopulations exchange between 10 and 100 times more migrants per generation than freshwater subpopulations, presumably because of the relative absence of barriers to dispersal in the marine environment. The reduced values of Hs in freshwater species are likely to reflect reduced effective subpopulation sizes relative to marine species. The few andromous species that have been analysed show intermediate levels of GST.