The role of anthropogenic vs. natural in-stream structures in determining connectivity and genetic diversity in an endangered freshwater fish, Macquarie perch (Macquaria australasica)

Leanne Faulks, Dean Gilligan, Luciano Beheregaray

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    42 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Abstract Habitat fragmentation is one of the leading causes of population declines, threatening ecosystems worldwide. Freshwater taxa may be particularly sensitive to habitat loss as connectivity between suitable patches of habitat is restricted not only by the natural stream network but also by anthropogenic factors. Using a landscape genetics approach, we assessed the impact of habitat availability on population genetic diversity and connectivity of an endangered Australian freshwater fish Macquarie perch, Macquaria australasica (Percichthyidae). The relative contribution of anthropogenic versus natural in-stream habitat structures in shaping genetic structure and diversity in M. australasica was quite striking. Genetic diversity was significantly higher in locations with a higher river slope, a correlate of the species preferred habitat - riffles. On the other hand, barriers degrade preferred habitat and impede dispersal, contributing to the degree of genetic differentiation among populations. Our results highlight the importance of landscape genetics to understanding the environmental factors affecting freshwater fish populations and the potential practical application of this approach to conservation management of other freshwater organisms.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)589-601
    Number of pages13
    JournalEvolutionary Applications
    Volume4
    Issue number4
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2011

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