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Interannual variation in effective number of breeders and estimation of effective population size in long-lived iteroparous lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens)

Authors


Correspondence: Thuy Yen Duong, College of Aquaculture and Fisheries, Cantho University, 3/2 street, Cantho City, Vietnam. Fax: +84 710 3830323; E-mail: duongyen@msu.edu or thuyyen@ctu.edu.vn

Abstract

Quantifying interannual variation in effective adult breeding number (Nb) and relationships between Nb, effective population size (Ne), adult census size (N) and population demographic characteristics are important to predict genetic changes in populations of conservation concern. Such relationships are rarely available for long-lived iteroparous species like lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens). We estimated annual Nb and generational Ne using genotypes from 12 microsatellite loci for lake sturgeon adults (= 796) captured during ten spawning seasons and offspring (= 3925) collected during larval dispersal in a closed population over 8 years. Inbreeding and variance Nb estimated using mean and variance in individual reproductive success derived from genetically identified parentage and using linkage disequilibrium (LD) were similar within and among years (interannual range of Nb across estimators: 41–205). Variance in reproductive success and unequal sex ratios reduced Nb relative to N on average 36.8% and 16.3%, respectively. Interannual variation in Nb/N ratios (0.27–0.86) resulted from stable N and low standardized variance in reproductive success due to high proportions of adults breeding and the species' polygamous mating system, despite a 40-fold difference in annual larval production across years (437–16 417). Results indicated environmental conditions and features of the species' reproductive ecology interact to affect demographic parameters and Nb/N. Estimates of Ne based on three single-sample estimators, including LD, approximate Bayesian computation and sibship assignment, were similar to annual estimates of Nb. Findings have important implications concerning applications of genetic monitoring in conservation planning for lake sturgeon and other species with similar life histories and mating systems.

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