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Complex patterns of genetic and morphological differentiation in the Smallmouth Bass subspecies (Micropterus dolomieu dolomieu and M. d. velox) of the Central Interior Highlands

  • Gunn, Joe C.1
  • Berkman, Leah K.2
  • Koppelman, Jeff2
  • Taylor, Andrew T.3
  • Brewer, Shannon3
  • Long, James M.3
  • Eggert, Lori S.1
  • 1 University of Missouri, 226 Tucker Hall, Columbia, MO, 65211, USA , Columbia (United States)
  • 2 Missouri Department of Conservation, 3500 E. Gans Rd., Columbia, MO, 65201, USA , Columbia (United States)
  • 3 Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, OK, 74078, USA , Stillwater (United States)
Published Article
Conservation Genetics
Springer Netherlands
Publication Date
Jul 28, 2020
DOI: 10.1007/s10592-020-01295-1
Springer Nature


Due to geologic processes and recent anthropogenic introductions, patterns of genetic and morphological diversity within the Smallmouth Bass (Micropterus dolomieu), which are endemic to the central and eastern United States (USA), are poorly understood. We assessed genetic and morphological differentiation between the widespread Northern Smallmouth Bass (M. d. dolomieu) and the more restricted Neosho Smallmouth Bass (M. d. velox) where their ranges meet in the Central Interior Highlands ecoregion (CIH). Data from 14 microsatellite loci were used to conduct Structure and principal components analyses to evaluate diversity across populations and screen for hybridization with sympatric Spotted Bass (M. punctulatus). We also tested for morphological differences using five morphometric traits and one meristic trait. We found support for three genetic clusters corresponding to previously described taxonomic variation; five clusters largely corresponding to river systems; and nine clusters representing hierarchical population structure within both ranges. We found evidence of a unique genetic cluster in tributaries of the White River within the Northern Smallmouth Bass range and admixture between the subspecies throughout the Neosho range. We also found evidence of morphological differentiation between subspecies; Neosho Smallmouth Bass exhibited larger head length than Northern Smallmouth Bass relative to total length, and there was a significant interaction of subspecies and orbital length, possibly indicating differential growth patterns between subspecies. Our results reveal multiple levels of divergence, suggesting the CIH harbors greater and more complex Smallmouth Bass diversity than previously thought.

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