Population structure and gene flow in the Sheepnose mussel (Plethobasus cyphyus) and their implications for conservation

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Roe, Kevin J.
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Roe, Kevin
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Natural Resource Ecology and Management
The Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management is dedicated to the understanding, effective management, and sustainable use of our renewable natural resources through the land-grant missions of teaching, research, and extension.
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Natural Resource Ecology and Management
North American freshwater mussel species have experienced substantial range fragmentation and population reductions. These impacts have the potential to reduce genetic connectivity among populations and increase the risk of losing genetic diversity. Thirteen microsatellite loci and an 883 bp fragment of the mitochondrial ND1 gene were used to assess genetic diversity, population structure, contemporary migration rates, and population size changes across the range of the Sheepnose mussel (Plethobasus cyphyus). Population structure analyses reveal five populations, three in the Upper Mississippi River Basin and two in the Ohio River Basin. Sampling locations exhibit a high degree of genetic diversity and contemporary migration estimates indicate that migration within river basins is occurring, although at low rates, but there is no migration is occurring between the Ohio and Mississippi river basins. No evidence of bottlenecks was detected, and almost all locations exhibited the signature of population expansion. Our results indicate that although anthropogenic activity has altered the landscape across the range of the Sheepnose, these activities have yet to be reflected in losses of genetic diversity. Efforts to conserve Sheepnose populations should focus on maintaining existing habitats and fostering genetic connectivity between extant demes to conserve remaining genetic diversity for future viable populations.
This article is published as Schwarz, Sara, and Kevin J. Roe. "Population structure and gene flow in the Sheepnose mussel (Plethobasus cyphyus) and their implications for conservation." Ecology and Evolution 12, no. 2 (2022): e8630. doi:10.1002/ece3.8630. Posted with permission. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.