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Proc Biol Sci. 2003 Feb 22;270(1513):425-33.

Genetic variation over space and time: analyses of extinct and remnant lake trout populations in the Upper Great Lakes.

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  • 1Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, East Lansing 48824-1222, USA.


Lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) in the upper Laurentian Great Lakes of North America experienced striking reductions in abundance and distribution during the mid-twentieth century. Complete collapse of populations was documented for Lake Michigan, and a few remnant populations remained only in lakes Huron and Superior. Using DNA obtained from historical scale collections, we analysed patterns of genetic diversity at five microsatellite loci from archived historical samples representing 15 populations (range 1940-1959) and from three contemporary remnant populations across lakes Huron and Superior (total n = 893). Demographic declines in abundance and the extirpation of native lake trout populations during the past 40 years have resulted in the loss of genetic diversity between lakes owing to extirpation of Lake Michigan populations and a temporal trend for reduction in allelic richness in the populations of lakes Superior and Huron. Naturally reproducing populations in Lake Superior, which had been considered to be remnants of historical populations, and which were believed to be responsible for the resurgence of lake trout numbers and distribution, have probably been affected by hatchery supplementation.

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