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Using Genetic Pedigree Reconstruction to Estimate Effective Spawner Abundance from Redd Surveys: An Example Involving Pacific Lamprey Entosphenus tridentatus

Feb 14, 2017


Redd surveys are a commonly used technique for indexing the abundance of sexually mature fish in streams; however substantial effort is often required to link redd counts to actual spawner abundance. In this study, we describe how genetic pedigree reconstruction can be used to estimate effective spawner abundance in a stream reach, using Pacific Lamprey Entosphenus tridentatus as an example. Lamprey embryos were sampled from redds within a 2.5 km reach of the Luckiamute River, OR, USA. Embryos were found in only 20 of the 48 redds sampled (suggesting 58% false redds), however multiple sets of parents were detected in 44% of the true redds. Estimates from pedigree reconstruction suggested that there were 0.48 (95% C.I. 0.29 – 0.88) effective spawners per redd and revealed that individual lamprey contributed gametes to a minimum of between one and six redds, and, in one case, spawned in patches that were separated by over 800 m. Our findings demonstrate the utility of pedigree reconstruction techniques for both inferring spawning-ground behaviors and providing useful information for refining lamprey redd survey methodologies.


Steven Whitlock, Luke Schultz, Carl Schreck, and Jon Hess


Whitlock, S.L., L.D. Schultz, C.B. Schreck, and J.E. Hess. 2017. Using genetic pedigree reconstruction to estimate effective spawner abundance from redd surveys: an example involving Pacific Lamprey Entosphenus tridentatus. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 74(10):1646-1653. Online at



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Journal Article