Freshwater mussels (family Unionidae) have been declining across North America at an alarming rate. Numerous conservation strategies have been invoked to slow or reverse this decline, with hatcheries and transport of individuals from healthy populations to ailing ones being a common technique. However, moving individuals from one population to another can have unintended consequences if the individuals from the source population are genetically distinct, so it is imperative that conservationists understand the underlying patterns of genetic diversity of the species they are trying to save. This study examines populations of the mussel Potamilus alatus across the state of Minnesota in order to determine the extent of genetic connectivity among different geographic populations are. Analyses of seven different microsatellite loci found that populations within the Mississippi River watershed are genetically similar; however, a population along the Red Lake River is isolated and unique. Any future conservation efforts with Potamilus alatus should take these differences in to account when taking broodstock for hatcheries or transporting individuals between populations, in order to avoid outbreeding depression, or transplanting individuals into environments for which not be genetically suited.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. May 2020. Major: Conservation Biology. Advisor: Andrew Simons. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 33 pages.
Population Genetic Structure Of The Freshwater Mussel Potamilus Alatus In The State Of Minnesota.
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