Revealing the genetic diversity of bass species could enhance conservation

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Striped bass. Credit: Timothy Kneipp/Public Domain

A new study by ichthyologists at Yale University provides a clearer picture of species diversity among black bass – one of the most important and economically important breeds of freshwater fish. Their findings could help guide the conservation and management of bass species that are prized by fishermen around the world and among the world’s most invasive species.

For the study published June 6 in the journal Scientific Reportsthe researchers used genetic analysis To more accurately locate 19 black bass species in the Tree of Life. Importantly, the analysis revealed that two common species – largemouth bass and Florida bass – have been misclassified over the past 75 years. The scientific names Micropterus salmoides and Micropterus floridanus were incorrectly applied to largemouth bass and Florida bass, respectively.

The researchers concluded that Micropterus salmoides is the exact scientific name for Florida bass while largemouth bass should be reclassified as Micropterus nigricans, the oldest available scientific name for largemouth bass. This is significant because both largemouth bass and Florida bass have been introduced into 57 countries on every continent except Antarctica under the misapplied scientific name Micropterus salmoides, which means introductions have been made to support fisheries without knowing the exact species, explained lead author Daemin Kim , a graduate student in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University.

While the phylogeny, or evolutionary historyblack bass is probably not at the top of the interest of most anglers, it is very important to conserve species diversity Kim said he manages the bushfish responsibly.

“Our work not only provides a new perspective on the diversity of black bass species, but also provides a roadmap for genetic evolution to protect biodiversity,” Kim said. “Removing species from their natural ranges and mixing them for the purpose of storing ponds and lakes can threaten species diversity. Understanding the boundaries between species protects seabass as well as the fisheries and ecosystems in which they live.”

Kim co-authored the study with Thomas Nir, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology in the Yale University School of Arts and Sciences, and Andrew Taylor of the University of Central Oklahoma.

The researchers conducted genetic analysis of DNA from 394 samples representing all recognized black seabass species, as well as specific species currently lacking scientific descriptions, across the geographical regions in which they were found. The samples included samples collected by the authors and their colleagues between 2002 and 2020. They also included samples from Yale Peabody and other museums as well as state wildlife agencies.

The researchers extracted DNA from tissue samples, and simultaneously sequenced hundreds of thousands of genes for each individual fish. The researchers used DNA sequencing to infer how the samples were related to each other.

This was the first time this genetic analysis had been applied to black seabass. Kim said the results were surprisingly different from previous analyzes that used different methods.

In addition to finding fault with the classification of Florida bass and largemouth bass, the analysis validated three known species that currently lack scientific descriptions: Bartram bass and Altahama bass in the red-eye bass species complex, and Choctaw bass in the famous Spotted bass complex.

The study also recognized two Non-described species Currently classified as smallmouth bass that inhabit the Little River System in southeastern Oklahoma and the Ouachita River system in northwestern Arkansas, respectively. Agriculture has degraded habitat conditions in the two rivers, which means that conservation efforts are needed to protect both species. As members of the smallmouth bass complex, the species needs cooler, faster flow currents with a series of puddles and guns. Today such habitats are still found only in many tributaries of the two rivers, Kim said.

Nir explained that a better understanding of species diversity would help reduce interbreeding among bass species, causing a variety of downstream conservation effects that often harm commercial recreational fisheries.

For example, the recreational fisheries may mix Florida bass and largemouth bass as both are incorrectly listed in field guides under Micropterus salmoides. Florida bass are large, aggressive, and a strong fighter, which makes them desirable for sport fishing. When the two species are stored together, he said, they will start producing hybrids.

“In general, hybrid species tend to be less fit and less able to survive reproducing,” said Nir, Bingham’s curator of oceanography for ichthyology at the Peabody Museum. “When a fishery mixes two species, the resulting hybrid can end up destroying both species.”

Largemouth bass and Florida bass have been stocked worldwide since the 1880s. Micropterus salmoides is defined by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as invasive. He said that while Kim was growing up in South Korea, fishermen prized the gaseous largemouth bass, but he also considered a serious problem.

“This study showed that largemouth bass is part of a group of previously unknown species,” he said. “It made me realize that largemouth deep voice They are stocked all over South Korea and East Asia, but they don’t actually know the specific species they’re dealing with. Our work can help address this issue and better support management and conservation.”

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more information:
Daemin Kim et al, Phylogenetics and species delimitation of the Basque fish of economic importance (Micropterus), Scientific Reports (2022). DOI: 10.1038 / s41598-022-11743-2

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