While currently in a state of recovery in the United Kingdom (UK), the grayling (Thymallus thymallus) remains of conservation interest due to its historical decline, socio-economic value and the potential impact of hatchery-reared stock fish on the genetic structure and diversity of wild populations. However, little is known about the levels and distribution of genetic diversity among UK grayling populations. To this end, 27 UK populations of grayling were genotyped across 10 microsatellite loci and sequenced at the mtDNA D-Loop. All populations clustered into four higher-level groups: Northern England, Southern England, Wales, and group consisting of a mixture of native and introduced populations. Ten populations showed evidence of bottleneck or founder effects, and the effective population size (Ne) was low in all populations. In most cases, historical stocking records agreed with the genetic relationships revealed in the study. A D-Loop haplotype network supported the groupings observed in the nuclear data, while phylogenetic inference places the UK populations amongst Central European samples. The combined datasets demonstrate that many of the UK populations can be treated as separate Management Units and we recommend that to preserve population specific genetic diversity, that stocking should be an intervention of last resort. However, if stocking is deemed essential, brood stock should originate from the river to be stocked.
- Population structure