Population Genetics: Principles and Applications for Fisheries Scientists. Eric Hallerman, ed. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD, 2003. 458 pp., illus. $69.00 (ISBN 1888569271 cloth).
Population Genetics: Principles and Applications for Fisheries Scientists fills a large gap in content resources needed by beginning fisheries scientists: It is the first text on the application of population genetics to fisheries science aimed at an undergraduate audience. Eric Hallerman edited the volume of 18 chapters, which were written by 14 well-respected fisheries geneticists.
Over the past 30 years, fisheries scientists have been applying population genetics to matters such as hybrid identification, mixed-stock fisheries analysis, and description of population structure. These and other applications of population genetics to fisheries have been widely documented in numerous journal articles and book chapters. Ironically, however, despite the large amount of information available on fisheries genetics, there have been few undergraduate courses and (until now) no undergraduate textbooks on the subject. This shortage of educational resources means that many professionals lack practical knowledge of a field that has become highly influential within conservation and management of fisheries resources.
In 1987, Nils Ryman and Fred Utter edited Population Genetics and Fisheries Management (University of Washington Press), which is aimed at a graduate-level audience. That book is considered a classic among fisheries geneticists, but it is too technical for most undergraduates. In the book under review, Hallerman, associate professor in fisheries and wildlife science at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, explains that the text was developed as a teaching resource to facilitate the exposure of more fisheries students to this vitally important topic. I believe that Hallerman and the other authors have been successful in creating a text that is understandable and informative to the undergraduate student who has completed an introductory genetics course.
Hallerman has arranged the text into four sections: a brief refresher in classical and molecular genetics, measurement of genetic variation, population genetic processes, and practical applications of population genetics. The book also contains a useful glossary. The chapters on measurement of genetic variation are well written and comprehensive, and they contain many useful figures and boxes demonstrating a variety of genetic techniques. Unfortunately, the chapter on nuclear DNA focuses on outdated techniques (e.g., RAPD, or random amplification of polymorphic DNA) and provides little coverage of current and emerging techniques in this area (e.g., fluorescent DNA sequencing and fragment analysis, SNP [single nucleotide polymorphism] analysis, and microarrays).
With the exception of the chapter on migration, the section on population genetic processes is generally written at an introductory level and does not have the comprehensive breadth of the other sections. The brevity of this section may be useful for teaching undergraduates the basic principles of population genetics theory without getting lost in the details, but I know from experience that adding problem and answer sets could enhance students' understanding. Unlike the other sections, this one competes with numerous other texts that students can consult for additional details.
The main strength of the book is the excellent section on the practical applications of population genetics. Topics covered in these chapters include genetic stock identification and risk assessment, genetic guidelines for hatchery supplementation programs, genetic impacts of fish introductions, genetic marking, forensics, and population viability analysis. The chapters contain a number of lucid case studies from the fisheries genetics literature that demonstrate the application of population genetics to fisheries management. Some notable topics are missing, however, including hybridization and introgression, population assignment, and pedigree reconstruction and kinship analysis. I would like to see chapters on these topics in a future edition.
Population Genetics: Principles and Applications for Fisheries Scientists achieves Hallerman's goal of placing population genetics into the fisheries curriculum in a form that undergraduate students can relate to and apply throughout their careers. This book will serve as the standard text for introductory fisheries genetics courses. Best of all, it provides a new cohort of fisheries scientists a solid foundation for applying the principles of population genetics to the management and conservation of fish and fisheries throughout the world.