The Genetics of Black Bass Conservation Historical Perspectives of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Wednesday, September 11, 2013: 11:20 AM
Marriott Ballroom C (The Marriott Little Rock)
David Philipp , Fisheries Conservation Foundation, Champaign, IL
Fisheries scientists working with the black basses (and other centrarchids) took their lead in the early-mid 1970s from a handful of geneticists that were using starch gel protein electrophoresis to study the population genetic structure of wild organisms.  A range-wide genetic survey of largemouth bass populations published in 1983 provided the impetus for discussions regarding the need to conserve genetically divergent stocks of largemouth bass…the Good.  At that time, past and ongoing stocking programs had introduced non-native stocks, non-native species, and even non-native genera within the Centrarchidae to many populations within the native ranges of this group.  Being centrarchids, the result was rampant hybridization, accompanied by the widespread introduction of non-native genes into native populations…the Bad!  Even as our science has evolved to encompass the spectrum of modern molecular techniques (e.g., the raft of PCR-DNA based techniques that now allow us to identify parents of an individual, gene chip arrays that let us assess how the regulation of gene expression differs among individuals, and selective breeding experiments that allow us to assess how human-induced selection pressures can change bass behavior and life history characteristics) has our conservation efforts kept up?  Unfortunately, ill-advised stocking practices (both within the public and private sectors) and unscientific approaches to the evolutionary status of this group continue to hamper our conservation efforts for the many populations that are at risk from our own management actions…the Ugly.