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Patterns of genetic diversity of brown trout in a northern Spanish catchment linked to structural connectivity

Abstract: The alteration of structural connectivity in fluvial networks is important for the genetic dynamics of aquatic species. Exploring the effects of network fragmentation through genetic analysis is crucial to assess the conservation status of riverine species. In this study, we investigated the genetic consequences of the altered connectivity of brown trout in the Deva-Cares catchment (northern Spain). We investigated (1) genetic diversity, (2) genetic differentiation and genetic structure, (3) migration rates and effective population size and (4) genetic differentiation and riverscape characteristics. Analysis of the genetic variation among 197 individuals from the 13 study sites revealed a high degree of genetic differentiation (FST = 0.181). Belowbarrier study sites had higher genetic diversity and lower FST values, while headwater and above-barrier study sites had lower genetic diversity and higher FST values. Most of the genetic groups identified were separated by one or more impermeable barriers. We reported an abrupt decrease in genetic diversity and effective population size in upper course tributaries and isolated reaches. Likewise, a downstream-biased gene flow was found, and it was most likely related to the fragmentation caused by barriers, since the results from migration indicated that gene flow between groups without impermeable barriers was higher bidirectionally. Isolation by impermeable barriers played a more important role than hydrological distance in determining the genetic structure. Most of the genetic groups showed small effective population sizes. Genetic analysis at the river network scale provides evidence for the role of barriers in determining genetic diversity patterns, highlighting the importance of maintaining and restoring river longitudinal connectivity.

 Fuente: Aquatic Sciences, 2022, 84(4), 48

 Publisher: Springer Nature

 Publication date: 26/07/2022

 No. of pages: 19

 Publication type: Article


 ISSN: 1015-1621,1420-9055

 Spanish project: BIA-2012-33572

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