Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wisconsin Fishery
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

VanDeHey, J.A., B.L. Sloss, P.J. Peeters, and T.M. Sutton. 2010. Determining the efficacy of microsatellite DNA-based mixed-stock analysis of Lake Michigan’s lake whitefish commercial fishery. Journal of Great Lakes Research 36:52-58.


Management of commercially exploited fish should be conducted at the stock level. If a mixed stock fishery exists, a comprehensive mixed stock analysis is required for stock-based management. The lake whitefish Coregonus clupeaformis comprises the primary commercial fishery across the Great Lakes. Recent research resolved that six genetic stocks of lake whitefish were present in Lake Michigan, and long-term tagging data indicate that Lake Michigan's lake whitefish commercial fishery is a mixed stock fishery. The objective of this research was to determine the usefulness of microsatellite data for conducting comprehensive mixed stock analyses of the Lake Michigan lake whitefish commercial fishery. We used the individual assignment method as implemented in the program ONCOR to determine the accuracy level at which microsatellite data can reliably identify component populations or stocks. Self-assignment of lake whitefish to their population and stock of origin ranged from N96% to 100%. Evaluation of genetic stock discreteness indicated a moderately high degree of correct assignment (average=75%); simulations indicated supplementing baseline data by ∼50 to 100 individuals could increase accuracy by up to 4.5%. Simulated mixed stock commercial harvests with known stock composition showed a high degree of correct proportional assignment between observed and predicted harvest values. These data suggest that a comprehensive mixed stock analysis of Lake Michigan's lake whitefish commercial fishery is viable and would provide valuable information for improving management.