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Wednesday, January 27 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Estimating Genetic Diversity Levels In Wisconsin’s Feral Walleye Broodstock Populations

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AUTHORS: Michael F. Vaske,Fish Propagation Science Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Justin A VanDeHey, Fish Propagation Science Center, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; Brian L. Sloss, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point; Keith Turnquist, Molecular Conservation Genetics Laboratory, College of Natural Resources, University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point

ABSTRACT: Conservation of genetic resources is both a challenging issue and a vital component of fisheries management in Wisconsin. Walleye Sander vitreus are an ecologically important top predator and one of the most sought after sport fishes in Wisconsin. Maintaining the genetic diversity of walleye populations is important for sustainability and is an explicit goal of Wisconsin’s walleye management plan. This maintenance of genetic diversity is especially important within the propagation program. With an increase in production of extended growth walleye fingerlings (6-8” in length) from state and private hatcheries, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) has requested assistance to better understand the genetic implications of their current propagation methods. Therefore, the objectives of our research were to (1) compare the genetic diversity within Wisconsin’s feral walleye broodstock with genetic diversity levels in other wild, naturally recruiting, Wisconsin walleye populations; and (2) determine if levels of inbreeding, effective population size, and the probability of spawning related individuals differed between fish collected with different gears (electrofishing and fyke netting) and varying levels of sampling effort. During 2015, fin clips were collected from spawning walleye. Genetic diversity within each broodstock population was compared to levels of naturally recruiting walleye populations throughout northern Wisconsin. Both broodfish populations exceeded minimum threshold values set by the WDNR and had allelic richness and heterozygosity levels comparable to other naturally recruiting-northern Wisconsin averages. Levels of inbreeding were considerably lower other northern Wisconsin populations. Results from this research will aid in development of a walleye genetic broodstock management plan based on best management practices, sound genetic principles, and logistical considerations.

Wednesday January 27, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST