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Keywords:

  • effective size;
  • genetic monitoring

Abstract

Genetic monitoring tracks changes in measures of diversity including allelic richness, heterozygosity and genetic effective size over time, and has emerged as an important tool for understanding evolutionary consequences of population management. One proposed application of genetic monitoring has been to estimate abundance and its trajectory through time. Here, genetic monitoring was conducted across five consecutive year for the Pecos bluntnose shiner, a federally threatened minnow. Temporal changes in allele frequencies at seven microsatellite DNA loci were used to estimate variance effective size (NeV) across adjacent years in the time series. Likewise, effective size was computed using the linkage disequilibrium method (NeD) for each sample. Estimates of Ne were then compared to estimates of adult fish density obtained from traditional demographic monitoring. For Pecos bluntnose shiner, density (catch-per-unit-effort), NeV and NeD were positively associated across this time series. Results for Pecos bluntnose shiner were compared to a related and ecologically similar species, the Rio Grande silvery minnow. In this species, density and NeV were negatively associated, which suggested decoupling of abundance and effective size trajectories. Conversely, density and NeD were positively associated. For Rio Grande silvery minnow, discrepancies among estimates of Ne and their relationships with adult fish density could be related to effects of high variance in reproductive success in the wild and/or effects of supplementation of the wild population with captive-bred and reared fish. The efficacy of Ne as a predictor of density and abundance may depend on intrinsic population dynamics of the species and how these dynamics are influenced by the landscape features, management protocols and other factors.