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Population genetics of the endangered Maugean skate (Zearaja maugeana) in Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania

Weltz, K ORCID: 0000-0003-3866-8148, Lyle, JM ORCID: 0000-0001-9670-5854, Semmens, JM ORCID: 0000-0003-1742-6692 and Ovenden, JR 2018 , 'Population genetics of the endangered Maugean skate (Zearaja maugeana) in Macquarie Harbour, Tasmania' , Conservation Genetics, vol. 19, no. 6 , pp. 1505-1512 , doi: 10.1007/s10592-018-1117-0.

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Abstract

The Maugean skate (Zearaja maugeana) has only been recorded in two remote and isolated estuaries on the west coast ofTasmania, Australia. While the population status in one of these estuaries (Bathurst Harbour) is uncertain, it is likely thatMacquarie Harbour now represents the sole remaining habitat for this species. Environmental conditions, in particular dissolvedoxygen levels and benthic biodiversity, in Macquarie Harbour have deteriorated in recent years, impacted by increasednutrient inputs from an expanding salmonid aquaculture industry. These environmental changes are believed to pose a threatto the persistence of the Maugean skate. In assessing the risks for this rare and range-restricted species, it is vital to considergenetic information when developing management strategies. Both mitochondrial and microsatellite markers showed that thespecies has low genetic diversity; with no detectable genetic diversity in over 3000 base pairs surveyed from the mitochondrialgenome, low average microsatellite heterozygosity (0.35 ± 0.11), a low average number of alleles per locus (2.1 ± 0.4) acrosseight microsatellite loci and no overall population structure within the microsatellite loci (Fst = − 0.002, p = 0.718 ± 0.012).There was also evidence of a recent bottleneck or founder event, which may explain the low observed genetic diversity. Whilethe species may have existed with low genetic diversity for many generations, the results of this study represent a flag forconservation concern for the Maugean skate. Given that Macquarie Harbour may be its last remaining habitat, any threatsto the species resulting in local extinction could equate to global loss of this unique skate species.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Weltz, K and Lyle, JM and Semmens, JM and Ovenden, JR
Keywords: Maugean skate, endangered elasmobranch, genetic diversity, conservation, extinction risk
Journal or Publication Title: Conservation Genetics
Publisher: Kluwer Academic Publ
ISSN: 1566-0621
DOI / ID Number: 10.1007/s10592-018-1117-0
Copyright Information:

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

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