Pacific herring (Clupea pallasi) are an important species of marine ecosystems, and to Coastal First Nations. Herring are now in decline across the Northeast Pacific, but there is much debate on the nature of this decline and its potential impacts on biological diversity of the species. This research project takes an in-depth look at mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of ancient herring bones recovered from stratified midden deposits at Namu, British Columbia to document changes in genetic diversity through time (7000 – 100 BP), and to explore the possibility of identifying region-specific herring populations. This study processed 60 samples with a success rate of 83.3% for mtDNA sequence analysis. Our data show that ancient DNA is generally well preserved in ancient herring remains as old as 7000BP, demonstrating the potential for retrieving genetic information about herring of the past. However, our mtDNA (D-loop and cytb) markers proved to be less informative in revealing changes of population diversity. Nuclear DNA markers and next generation sequencing technology are expected to make good use of the recovered herring DNA to better reconstruct natural history in the region.
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Thesis advisor: Yang, Dongya
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