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Keywords:

  • fitness;
  • hatchery effects;
  • lake size;
  • lake temperature;
  • life history traits;
  • species richness

Abstract

Genetic diversity is recognized as an important population attribute for both conservation and evolutionary purposes; however, the functional relationships between the environment, genetic diversity, and fitness-related traits are poorly understood. We examined relationships between selected lake parameters and population genetic diversity measures in 46 walleye (Sander vitreus) populations across the province of Ontario, Canada, and then tested for relationships between six life history traits (in three categories: growth, reproductive investment, and mortality) that are closely related to fitness, and genetic diversity measures (heterozygosity, d2, and Wright's inbreeding coefficient). Positive relationships were observed between lake surface area, growing degree days, number of species, and hatchery supplementation versus genetic diversity. Walleye early growth rate was the only life history trait significantly correlated with population heterozygosity in both males and females. The relationship between FIS and male early growth rate was negative and significant (P < 0.01) and marginally nonsignificant for females (P = 0.06), consistent with inbreeding depression effects. Only one significant relationship was observed for d2: female early growth rate (P < 0.05). Stepwise regression models showed that surface area and heterozygosity had a significant effect on female early growth rate, while hatchery supplementation, surface area and heterozygosity had a significant effect on male early growth rate. The strong relationship between lake parameters, such as surface area, and hatchery supplementation, versus genetic diversity suggests inbreeding and outbreeding in some of the populations; however, the weak relationships between genetic diversity and life history traits indicate that inbreeding and outbreeding depression are not yet seriously impacting Ontario walleye populations.