Discontinuous infraspecific variation in ecological and morphological traits has consequences for conservation of powan (Coregonus lavaretus) in Scotland
Etheridge, E.C.; Bean, C.W.; Maitland, P.S.; Ballantyne, S.; Adams, C.E.
In the UK, aside from a few subspecies of birds and hybrids of plants, legislated protection concerning wildlife is mainly targeted at the species level. However, a short coming of this legislation is that it does not take into account conservation of biodiversity at an infraspecific level. Different populations of the same species in some cases are ecologically or genetically distinct and thus have a different conservation status and may need to be managed separately. We illustrated this by examining head morphology, growth rate, age structure and parasite load in two populations of powan (Coregonus lavaretus) found in Scotland. Significant morphological and ecological differences were found between these two populations, suggesting that they are not ecologically exchangeable and form evolutionary significant units (ESUs). In order for this to be integrated into legislation, guidelines that recognise infraspecific level protection and management need to be developed.