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Genetics. 1997 Nov;147(3):1249-58.

Historical analysis of genetic variation reveals low effective population size in a northern pike (Esox lucius) population.

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Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, University of Minnesota, St. Paul 55108, USA.


Effective population size (Ne) of a natural fish population was estimated from temporal changes in allele frequencies at seven microsatellite loci. Use of a historical collection of fish scales made it possible to increase the precision of estimates by increasing the time interval between samples and to use an equation developed for discrete generations without correcting for demographic parameters. Estimates of Ne for the time intervals 1961-1977 and 1977-1993 were 35 and 72, respectively. For the entire interval, 1961-1993, the estimate of Ne was 48 when based on a weighted mean derived from the above two estimates or 125 when calculated from 1961 and 1993 samples only. Corresponding ratios of effective size to adult census size ranged from 0.03 to 0.14. An Ne of 48 over a 32-year period would imply that this population lost as much as 8% of its heterozygosity in that time. Results suggest the potential for using genetic methods based on microsatellite loci data to compare historical trends in Ne with population dynamic parameters. Such comparisons will help to evaluate the relationship between genetic diversity and long-term persistence of natural populations.

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