Atlantic salmon Salmo salar in the chalk streams of England are genetically unique
Recent research has identified genetic groups of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar that show association with geological and environmental boundaries. This study focuses on one particular subgroup of the species inhabiting the chalk streams of southern England, U.K. These fish are genetically distinct from other British and European S. salar populations and have previously demonstrated markedly low admixture with populations in neighbouring regions. The genetic population structure of S. salar occupying five chalk streams was explored using 16 microsatellite loci. The analysis provides evidence of the genetic distinctiveness of chalk-stream S. salar in southern England, in comparison with populations from non-chalk regions elsewhere in western Europe. Little genetic differentiation exists between the chalk-stream populations and a pattern of isolation by distance was evident. Furthermore, evidence of temporal stability of S. salar populations across the five chalk streams was found. This work provides new insights into the temporal stability and lack of genetic population sub-structuring within a unique component of the species' range of S. salar.