Heredity (Edinb) 127 (1) 79-91 [2021-07-00; online 2021-05-07]
The use of genetic markers in the context of conservation is largely being outcompeted by whole-genome data. Comparative studies between the two are sparse, and the knowledge about potential effects of this methodology shift is limited. Here, we used whole-genome sequencing data to assess the genetic status of peripheral populations of the wels catfish (Silurus glanis), and discuss the results in light of a recent microsatellite study of the same populations. The Swedish populations of the wels catfish have suffered from severe declines during the last centuries and persists in only a few isolated water systems. Fragmented populations generally are at greater risk of extinction, for example due to loss of genetic diversity, and may thus require conservation actions. We sequenced individuals from the three remaining native populations (Båven, Emån, and Möckeln) and one reintroduced population of admixed origin (Helge å), and found that genetic diversity was highest in Emån but low overall, with strong differentiation among the populations. No signature of recent inbreeding was found, but a considerable number of short runs of homozygosity were present in all populations, likely linked to historically small population sizes and bottleneck events. Genetic substructure within any of the native populations was at best weak. Individuals from the admixed population Helge å shared most genetic ancestry with the Båven population (72%). Our results are largely in agreement with the microsatellite study, and stresses the need to protect these isolated populations at the northern edge of the distribution of the species.