Conservation Genetics

, Volume 16, Issue 5, pp 1209–1223 | Cite as

Influence of stocking history on the population genetic structure of anadromous alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) in Maine rivers

  • Meghan C. McBride
  • Daniel J. Hasselman
  • Theodore V. Willis
  • Eric P. Palkovacs
  • Paul Bentzen
Research Article


Stocking programs have been used extensively to mitigate declines in anadromous fishes, but these programs can have long-term unintended genetic consequences. Stocking can homogenize population structure, impede local adaptation, and hinder the use of genetic stock identification as a fishery management tool. Using 12 microsatellite loci, we evaluate the spatiotemporal genetic structure of 16 anadromous alewife (Alosa pseudoharengus) populations in Maine, USA, to determine whether inter-basin stocking practices have influenced population structure and the genetic diversity of the species in this region. Although, no pre-supplementation samples exist, comparative analyses of stocked and non-stocked populations show that stock transfers have influenced alewife population genetic structure. Genetic isolation by distance (IBD) was non-significant among stocked populations, but significant among non-stocked populations. However, two populations, Dresden Mills and Sewell Pond, appear to have resisted genetic homogenization despite stocking. Non-significant genic and genetic differentiations were broadly distributed among alewife populations. Hierarchical AMOVA indicated highly significant differentiation among temporal replicates within populations, and Bayesian clustering analysis revealed weak population structure. A significant correlation was observed between stocking (time and events) and pairwise \({\text{F}}_{\text{ST}}^{{\prime }}\) among alewife collections, and an analysis of IBD residuals showed a significant decline in the amount of genetic differentiation among populations as the extent of stocking activity increased. These findings call for an increased awareness of evolutionary processes and genetic consequences of restoration activities such as inter-basin stock transfers by fisheries management and conservation practitioners.


Stocking Alewife Alosa Genetic structure Fisheries management Ecological restoration 



This research was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council Discovery Grant to P. Bentzen and Department of Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service Coastal Program Grant (No. 501818G257), Department of Commerce, National Marine Fisheries Service Grant, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (No. NSN-60365), National Science Foundation Grant (No. EPS-0904155) to Maine EPSCoR at the University of Maine. We thank T. Apgar for assistance with ArcGIS 10.2 in measuring distances among rivers and Maine Department of Marine Resources for access to stocking records and for their assistance in collecting samples.

Supplementary material

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Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 391 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Meghan C. McBride
    • 1
  • Daniel J. Hasselman
    • 2
  • Theodore V. Willis
    • 3
  • Eric P. Palkovacs
    • 2
  • Paul Bentzen
    • 1
  1. 1.Marine Gene Probe Laboratory, Biology DepartmentDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA
  3. 3.Department of Environmental ScienceUniversity of Southern MaineGorhamUSA

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