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Rethinking the Stock Concept: A Phylogeographic Approach

Andrew E. Dizon, Christina Lockyer, William F. Perrin, Douglas P. Demaster and Joyce Sisson
Conservation Biology
Vol. 6, No. 1 (Mar., 1992), pp. 24-36
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2385848
Page Count: 13
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Rethinking the Stock Concept: A Phylogeographic Approach
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Abstract

The "stock" is the fundamental population unit of legally mandated conservation efforts, yet its formal definition in the scientific literature and in two U.S. conservation acts is varied and so general that attempts to apply it in practice are arbitrary. Because choice of stocks deserving management protection is sometimes politically contentious, improvement of the working definition is important. A key element should be the degree to which a population can be considered an evolutionary significant unit. We propose that a hierarchial classification scheme be applied to stock designations. Category I populations, having the highest probability of being evolutionarily significant units, are characterized by a discontinuous genetic divergence pattern where locally adapted and closely related genome assemblages are separated from others geographically and by significant genetic distances. Category II populations are similarly characterized by significant genetic diversity, but with weak geographic partitioning. Category III populations are the converse of II, having little genetic differentiation between assemblages that are clearly separate and likely to be reproductively isolated. Category IV assemblages have the lowest probability of being evolutionarily significant units and are characterized by extensive gene flow and no subdivision by extrinsic barriers. In addition to phylogeographic designation, the following information is used in the classification, as indicated by single-letter abbreviations: distribution (a), population response (b), phenotypic (c), and genotypic (d) information. Included are evidence both for and against designating population as a separate stock. In the designation "Type II a/bc," for example, information to the right of the solidus would be evidence for "lumping," to the left would be for "splitting." Missing letter abbreviations would signify lack of reliable data. Note that phylogeographic designation depends on the results of selection operating to produce a locally adapted genome (indicated by differences in demographic, phenotypic, and genotypic measures) and on gene flow (indicated by differences in distribution or by movement data). Hierarchial stock categorization allows resource managers to direct limited resources to the populations most deserving of protection, that is, the populations that are most likely to be evolutionarily significant units. Using this comprehensive classification of stock allows preliminary, conservative splitting of assemblages where data are lacking without the danger that these divisions will become entrenched as biological dogma.

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