The principal objective of this study was to describe the pattern of genetic exchange and isolation of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations among geographical regions of the province of Quebec, Canada. Seven riverine populations, associated with three putative regional metapopulations (North Shore, Gaspé Peninsula, and Ungava), were analyzed using microsatellites. Our results did not support the putative metapopulation structure. Significant heterogeneity in allelic frequency was observed among most rivers independently of their location or group subdivision. Interpopulation genetic variance (φST) indicates less heterogeneity among rivers than χ2 analysis and was mainly associated with the geographical distance of the most isolated rivers, the Natashquan and the Koksoak. Even with low genetic variance among populations, the overall significant allelic heterogeneity among rivers strongly suggests that each population, whether separated by thousands or tens of kilometres, should be considered and managed as a specific stock.
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