Native bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis and silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix populations in the Pearl River are threatened by Yangtze River introductions as revealed by mitochondrial DNA.J Fish Biol. 2020 Mar; 96(3):651-662.JF
Bighead carp Hypophthalmichthys nobilis and silver carp Hypophthalmichthys molitrix have been two economically important aquaculture species in China for centuries. In the past decades, bighead and silver carp have been introduced from the Yangtze River to many river systems in China, including the Pearl River, in annual, large-scale, stocking activities to enhance wild fisheries. Nonetheless, few studies have assessed the ecological or genetic impacts of such introductions on native conspecific fish populations. An mtDNA D-loop segment of 978 bp from 213 bighead carp samples from 9 populations and a 975 bp segment from 204 silver carp samples from 10 populations were obtained to evaluate genetic diversity and population integrity. Results from a haplotype network analysis revealed that most haplotypes of the Pearl River clustered with those of Yangtze River origin and only a small proportion were distinct, suggesting that both the native Pearl River bighead and silver carp populations are currently dominated by genetic material from the Yangtze River. The genetic diversity of Pearl River populations is high in both species because of this inter-population gene flow, but the diversity of native Pearl River populations is low. To preserve the native genetic diversity, stocking of non-native fingerlings should cease immediately and native Pearl River bighead and silver carp fish farms should be established. This research demonstrates the danger to native biodiversity across China because of the substantial, ongoing stock-enhancement activities without prior genetic assessment.