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Scientific Report

Formation of Population Genetic Structure Following the Introduction and Establishment of Non-native American Shad (Alosa sapidissima) Along the Pacific Coast of North America



Biological invasions provide opportunities to examine contemporary evolutionary processes in novel environments. American shad, an anadromous fish native to the Atlantic Coast of North America, was introduced to California in 1871 and established spawning populations along the Pacific Coast that may provide insights into the dynamics of dispersal, colonization, and the establishment of philopatry. Using 13 neutral microsatellite loci we genotyped anadromous, freshwater resident and landlocked American shad from 14 locations along the US Pacific Coast to resolve population genetic structure. We observed significant differences in multilocus allele frequency distributions in nearly all (61/66; 92%) pairwise comparisons of non-native anadromous, freshwater resident and landlocked populations, and detected significant genetic differentiation for most (55/66; 83%) of these comparisons. Genetic divergence between landlocked and anadromous populations is due to genetic drift in isolation because of a physical migration barrier. However, some reproductive isolating mechanism maintains genetic differentiation between sympatric populations in the Columbia River exhibiting alternative life history strategies (i.e. anadromous vs. ‘freshwater-type’). Non-native populations possessed genetic variants that were not observed in the species’ native range and were strongly differentiated from Atlantic Coast populations (G′ST = 0.218). Our results indicate that philopatry became established shortly after dispersal and colonization along the Pacific Coast. This study contributes to our understanding of dynamic evolutionary processes during invasions.


Daniel Hasselman, Paul Bentzen, Shawn R. Narum, and Thomas Quinn


Hasselman, D.J., P. Bentzen, S.R. Narum, and T.P. Quinn. 2018. Formation of population genetic structure following the introduction and establishment of non-native American shad (Alosa sapidissima) along the Pacific Coast of North America. Biol Invasions 20 (11):3123-3143. Online at


Nov 1st, 2018

Report No.


Media Type

Journal Article

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