Open Access Open Badges Research article

Temporal variation of genetic composition in Atlantic salmon populations from the Western White Sea Basin: influence of anthropogenic factors?

Mikhail Yu Ozerov14*, Alexey E Veselov2, Jaakko Lumme3 and Craig R Primmer1

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Biology, Division of Genetics and Physiology, University of Turku, 20014 Turku, Finland

2 Institute of Biology, Karelian Research Centre RAS, Pushkinskaya 11, 185610 Petrozavodsk, Russia

3 Department of Biology, University of Oulu, P.O. Box 3000, 90014 Oulu, Finland

4 Kevo Subarctic Research Institute, University of Turku, Turku 20014, Finland

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BMC Genetics 2013, 14:88  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-14-88

Published: 23 September 2013



Studies of the temporal patterns of population genetic structure assist in evaluating the consequences of demographic and environmental changes on population stability and persistence. In this study, we evaluated the level of temporal genetic variation in 16 anadromous and 2 freshwater salmon populations from the Western White Sea Basin (Russia) using samples collected between 1995 and 2008. To assess whether the genetic stability was affected by human activity, we also evaluated the effect of fishing pressure on the temporal genetic variation in this region.


We found that the genetic structure of salmon populations in this region was relatively stable over a period of 1.5 to 2.5 generations. However, the level of temporal variation varied among geographical regions: anadromous salmon of the Kola Peninsula exhibited a higher stability compared to that of the anadromous and freshwater salmon from the Karelian White Sea coast. This discrepancy was most likely attributed to the higher census, and therefore effective, population sizes of the populations inhabiting the rivers of the Kola Peninsula compared to salmon of the Karelian White Sea coast. Importantly, changes in the genetic diversity observed in a few anadromous populations were best explained by the increased level of fishing pressure in these populations rather than environmental variation or the negative effects of hatchery escapees. The observed population genetic patterns of isolation by distance remained consistent among earlier and more recent samples, which support the stability of the genetic structure over the period studied.


Given the increasing level of fishing pressure in the Western White Sea Basin and the higher level of temporal variation in populations exhibiting small census and effective population sizes, further genetic monitoring in this region is recommended, particularly on populations from the Karelian rivers.

Atlantic salmon; Temporal variation; Genetic diversity; Genetic structure; Fishing pressure