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U.S. Geological Survey - Great Lakes Science Center

Population Structure

Numerous fishes, aquatic organisms, and migratory birds utilize Great Lakes wetlands or nearshore habitats for a portion of their life history. The USGS-GLSC is currently examining the movement of important sport fish in nearshore waters, including walleye. Information gathered will allow researchers to develop an understanding of how coastal habitat availability and quality influence populations, which can potentially aid management efforts and facilitate conservation of both recreationally and commercially important fish species.


The Ohio Division of Wildlife is interested in evaluating the genetic "purity" of Ohio River strain walleye. To accomplish this, we wish to compare contemporary Ohio River strain walleye to historical Ohio River strain walleye and Great Lakes walleye, with the expectations that, if little or no introgression has occurred, the genetics of contemporary Ohio River strain walleye should more closely resemble historical Ohio River strain walleye than Great Lakes walleye. This objective will require the use of both mtDNA and microsatellite analyses on both historical and contemporary samples. The laboratory will use mitochondrial DNA to separate walleye into two groups: 1) Great Lakes strain and 2) Ohio River strain. Protocols and expected haplotypes for delineating Great Lakes strain and Ohio River strain walleye can be found in White et al. (2005). Upon identification of samples by strain, microsatellite genetic markers will be employed on the historical and contemporary Ohio River strain walleye. The genetic diversity of historical and contemporary Ohio River strain walleye will be subsequently compared to the genetic diversity of Lake Erie walleye. Only Ohio River strain walleye and the walleye from Lake Erie will be evaluated using existing microsatellite markers. Ohio River strain walleye and rare within the Ohio River and it will likely require several years of sampling to collect enough samples for a reliable analysis. The primary goal of the sauger work is to evaluate the genetic suitability of sauger populations within the Ohio River and Great Lakes Basins for reintroduction into Lake Erie. To accomplish this, microsatellite markers will be used to compare historical Lake Erie sauger samples to extant wild populations.

Principal Investigator: Wendylee Stott

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