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Data from: Yellow perch genetic structure and habitat use among connected habitats in eastern Lake Michigan

Cite this dataset

Chorak, Gregory et al. (2019). Data from: Yellow perch genetic structure and habitat use among connected habitats in eastern Lake Michigan [Dataset]. Dryad.


Maintenance of genetic and phenotypic diversity is widely recognized as an important conservation priority, yet managers often lack basic information about spatial patterns of population structure and its relationship with habitat heterogeneity and species movement within it. To address this knowledge gap, we focused on the economically and ecologically prominent yellow perch (Perca flavescens). In the Lake Michigan basin, yellow perch reside in nearshore Lake Michigan, including drowned river mouths (DRMs)—protected, lake-like habitats that link tributaries to Lake Michigan. The goal of this study was to examine the extent that population structure is associated with Great Lakes connected habitats (i.e., DRMs) in a mobile fish species using yellow perch as a model. Specifically, we tested whether DRMs and eastern Lake Michigan constitute distinct genetic stocks of yellow perch, and if so, which habitats those stocks occur in throughout the year. To do so, we genotyped yellow perch at 14 microsatellite loci collected from 10 DRMs in both deep and littoral habitats during spring, summer, and autumn and two nearshore sites in Lake Michigan (spring and autumn) during 2015-2016 and supplemented our sampling with fish collected in 2013. We found that yellow perch from littoral-DRM habitats were genetically distinct from fish captured in nearshore Lake Michigan. Our data also suggested that Lake Michigan yellow perch likely use deep-DRM habitats during autumn. Further, we found genetic structuring among DRMs. These patterns support hypotheses of fishery managers that yellow perch seasonally migrate to and from Lake Michigan, yet, interestingly, these fish do not appear to interbreed with littoral fish despite occupying the same DRM. We recommend that fisheries managers account for this complex population structure and movement when setting fishing regulations and assessing the effects of harvest in Lake Michigan.

Usage notes


Eastern Lake Michigan