Paddlefish Management, Propagation, and Conservation in the 21st Century

Genetic Conservation and Paddlefish Propagation

Brian L. Sloss, Robert A. Klumb, and Edward J. Heist

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874127.ch19

Abstract.—The conservation of genetic diversity of our natural resources is overwhelmingly one of the central foci of 21st century management practices. Three recommendations related to the conservation of paddlefish Polyodon spathula genetic diversity are to (1) identify genetic diversity at both nuclear and mitochondrial DNA loci using a suggested list of 20 sampling locations, (2) use genetic diversity estimates to develop genetic management units, and (3) identify broodstock sources to minimize effects of supplemental stocking on the genetic integrity of native paddlefish populations. We review previous genetic work on paddlefish and described key principles and concepts associated with maintaining genetic diversity within and among paddlefish populations and also present a genetic case study of current paddlefish propagation at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Gavins Point National Fish Hatchery. This study confirmed that three potential sources of broodfish were genetically indistinguishable at the loci examined, allowing the management agencies cooperating on this program flexibility in sampling gametes. This study also showed significant bias in the hatchery occurred in terms of male reproductive contribution, which resulted in a shift in the genetic diversity of progeny compared to the broodfish. This shift was shown to result from differential male contributions, partially attributed to the mode of egg fertilization. Genetic insights enable implementation of a paddlefish propagation program within an adaptive management strategy that conserves inherent genetic diversity while achieving demographic goals.