The Atlantic Salmon Arc Project (ASAP) was a multi-agency, international consortium which researched the population structure of the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) across the southern part of its range in Western Europe (from the southern limit of its range in Spain/Portugal, northwards to Scotland). This was an important task as the Atlantic salmon is facing a steep decline in numbers, whilst being managed has a significant game and tourism resource. The project was funded through the EU INTERREG scheme and ran from 2004 – 2007.
The Westcountry Rivers Trust and the University of Exeter led the project, but the research involved many other partners in collecting tissue samples (including the Environment Agency (England & Wales), Scottish Rivers Trusts and INRA, France); genetic analysis was a joint initiative and was carried out in laboratories in Exeter and at Oviedo University (Spain). This phase of the project utilised a suite of 12 microsatellite markers to study levels of genetic differentiation between samples; members of the consortium attended the meeting in Martinsburg, West Virginia, USA in November 2004 and adopted a modified version of the so-called 'West Virgina' panel agreed at the Martinsburg meeting.
The project focused on the southern part of the European range of the species, and the genetic baseline pioneered in the ASAP project has subsequently been added to and extended in the wider-ranging SALSEA project. Nonetheless, ASAP was among the first large-scale studies to demonstrate that Atlantic salmon can form distinct reproductive populations within a catchment, and within separate tributaries within a catchment; subsequently, these findings have had important consequences for applied salmon management. On-going and future applications of the data include investigations of differential exploitation of salmon in mixed-stock fisheries and the effects of introducing non-indigenous fish into natural populations.
The main postdoctoral researcher on the genetic analysis undertaken at Exeter was Andrew Griffiths; we are also grateful to colleagues in Oviedo and Cork (especially Gonzalo Machado-Schiaffino and Eileen Dillane), who played major roles in genetic analysis and microsatellite calibration. The lead partner on the ASAP project was the Westcountry Rivers Trust.
Publications from the project:
Griffiths, A. M., Machado-Schiaffino, G., Dillane, E., Coughlan, J., Horreo, J. L., Bowkett, A. E., Minting, P., Toms, S., Roche, W., Gargan, P., McGinnity, P., Cross, T., Bright, D., Garcia-Vazquez, E. & Stevens, J.R. (2010) Genetic stock identification of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations in the southern part of the European range. BMC Genetics, 11: 31 [Download PDF – OPEN ACCESS].
Griffiths, A.M., Ellis, J.S., Clifton-Dey, D., Machado-Schiaffino, G., Bright, D., Garcia-Vazquez, E. & Stevens, J.R. (2011) Restoration versus recolonisation; the origin of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) currently in the River Thames. Biological Conservation, 144: 2733–2738. [View PDF]
Horreo, J.L., Machado-Schiaffino, G., Ayllon, F., Griffiths, A.M., Bright, D., Stevens, J.R., Garcia-Vazquez, E. (2011) Impact of climate change and human-mediated introgression on southern European Atlantic salmon populations. Global Change Biology, 17: 1778-1787.
Finnegan, A.K., Griffiths, A.M., King, R.A., Machado-Schiaffino, G., Porcher, J.-P., Garcia-Vazquez, E., Bright, D. and Stevens J.R. (2013) Use of multiple markers demonstrates a cryptic western refugium and postglacial colonisation routes of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) in northwest Europe. Heredity 111, 34–43. [View PDF]
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