Biology, Management, and Culture of Walleye and Sauger

Chapter 4: Distribution and Population Genetics of Walleye and Sauger

Neil Billington, Chris C. Wilson, and Brian L. Sloss


This chapter gives an overview of the distribution and geographic genetic structure among native and introduced populations of Sander species in North America, with an emphasis on walleye and sauger as the two native species. As well as providing information on their native and expanded distributions, ranging from fossil evidence to contemporary occurrences, the chapter provides background information on the different genetic marker systems that have been used to describe the spatial genetic structure across hierarchical spatial and temporal scales, and the questions and issues that these heritable tracking systems have been applied to. Although genetic studies of walleye and sauger are relatively few compared with species such as salmonids, research on the genetic structure and diversity of these species using a variety of genetic tools have ranged from postglacial colonization (phylogeography) to regional and local stock structure and ancestry, stocking success, and validation of other fisheries assessment methods. The chapter provides a comprehensive overview of the varied uses to which genetic markers have been put to assess the genetic composition, ancestry, and diversity within and among populations of these species over varying geographic scales, as well as their use for fisheries science and management applications. By building a synthesis between the biogeographic history of these species and the genetic studies that have traced the ancestry and distribution of populations and individuals across multiple spatial and temporal scales, the chapter provides windows into the evolutionary and ecological dynamics within and among populations through space and time.