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Monday, January 25 • 1:40pm - 2:00pm
Persistence of Walleye Strains In Southern Minnesota

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AUTHORS: Loren Miller*, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Ryan Doorenbos, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources; Craig Soupir, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources

ABSTRACT: Walleye are the most desired gamefish in Minnesota and have been widely stocked for over a century. A genetics survey in the 1980s led to watershed-based stocking in northern Minnesota, but conservation of genetic diversity in southern Minnesota was not considered a priority. We used microsatellite DNA markers and Bayesian assignment techniques to determine ancestry of walleyes in numerous southern Minnesota lakes and rivers. Sampling locations included waters with native populations, some that were known sources for hatchery production, and lakes with introduced populations. Lakes throughout the Cannon River chain, a tributary to the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota, have persisting native ancestry despite ongoing stocking of northern Minnesota strains. Natural reproduction in several introduced populations is primarily sustained by Cannon or Mississippi River sources that have not been stocked for 25 years, despite subsequent stocking of other northern strains. Another distinct strain has persisted in the Crow River system in south-central Minnesota. This strain has recently been stocked in many southern lakes and was also shown to contribute to natural reproduction. The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is exploring ways to maintain the genetic integrity of these newly recognized strains. Although it is clear that southern strains are persisting in their source water and contributing to natural reproduction where introduced in southern lakes, it is uncertain that they could sustain high enough population levels to satisfy angler demand.

Monday January 25, 2016 1:40pm - 2:00pm EST