B P>Shovelnose sturgeon (Scaphirhynchus platorhynchus) caviar fisheries exist in several states throughout the Mississippi River drainage. Management of these fisheries may benefit from information about genetic stock structure. Sixteen microsatellite loci and morphological analysis were used to examine geographic stock structure of shovelnose sturgeon among seven geographic locations: five within continuous shovelnose sturgeon habitat, and two isolated by artificial barriers. Tissue samples were collected from 1999 to 2006 from the upper Missouri, Platte, lower Missouri, middle Mississippi, Ohio, Wabash, and Atchafalaya rivers. Geographic samples of shovelnose sturgeon samples could be separated into three groups with discriminate function analysis of four morphological characters. The microsatellite loci were highly variable (allelic richness range 5.65-13, observed heterozygosity range 0.64-0.89). Bayesian clustering did not identify multiple groups in the genetic data. However, significant genetic differentiation (theta(ST) = 0.017, P < 0.0001) was observed among a priori defined geographic samples and all pairwise estimates of theta(ST) were significant. Assignment testing among a priori defined groups indicated that the sturgeon from the upper Missouri, Platte, and Atchafalaya rivers had the highest assignment scores and thus were most distinct, while the lower Missouri and the middle Mississippi were less distinct and a larger fraction of the sturgeon from these rivers was genetically assigned to other rivers. The Ohio and Wabash rivers were genetically most similar. A Mantel test revealed a positive relationship between genetic and geographic distance (r = 0.464, P = 0.055) that was not statistically significant. The level of genetic differentiation observed at both molecular and morphological characters suggests that multiple shovelnose sturgeon populations may exist within the studied area, yet demographic factors and possible gene flow may have minimized the amount of genetic differentiation among locations.
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