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Divergent Life-history Races Do Not Represent Chinook Salmon Coast-wide: The Importance of Scale in Quaternary Biogeography

Mar 1, 2013


The dynamic Quaternary geology of the Pacific Ring of Fire created substantial challenges for biogeography. Fish life history and population genetic variation were shaped by climate change, repeated formation and subsidence of ice sheets, sea-level change, volcanism and tectonics, isostatic rebound, and now human activities. It is widely recognized in Chinook Salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) that parallel evolution and phenotypic plasticity have obscured range-wide patterns of life-history segregation with evolutionary lineage, yet the idea of the lineages themselves persists. We employed a large, internationally standardized, microsatellite data set to explore population structure at coast-wide scale and test for two divergent lineages, whether or not related to life history. We found at least 27 distinct lineages. However, relationships among groups were poorly resolved — essentially a star phylogeny. We found pervasive isolation by distance among groups, complicating cluster analysis. Only in the interior Columbia River (east of the Cascade Mountains) is there a deep genetic bifurcation that supports both the two-lineage hypothesis and the life-history segregation hypothesis. This broad-scale perspective helps reconcile different views of Chinook Salmon phylogeography and life-history distribution.


Paul Moran, David Teel, Michael Banks, Terry Beacham, Renee Bellinger, Scott Blankenship, John Candy, John Carlos Garza, Jon Hess, Shawn Narum, Lisa Seeb, William Templin, Colin Wallace, and Christian Smith


Moran, P., D.J. Teel, M.A. Banks, T.D. Beacham, M.R. Bellinger, S.M. Blankenship, J.R. Candy, J.C. Garza, J.E. Hess, S.R. Narum, L.W. Seeb, W.D. Templin, C.G. Wallace, and C.T. Smith. 2013. Divergent life-history races do not represent Chinook Salmon coast-wide: the importance of scale in Quaternary biogeography. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 70:415–435. Online at



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Journal Article