Mitochondrial DNA Analysis Indicates Sea Lampreys Are Indigenous to Lake Ontario: Response to Comment

TitleMitochondrial DNA Analysis Indicates Sea Lampreys Are Indigenous to Lake Ontario: Response to Comment
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsWaldman, J, Daniels, RA, Hickerson, M, Wirgin, I
JournalTransactions of the American Fisheries Society
KeywordsLake Ontario, Mitochondrial DNA Analysis, Petromyzon marinus, sea lampreys
Whether sea lampreys Petromyzon marinus are native to Lake Ontario (and Lake Champlain) has been vigorously argued for more than half a century. In earlier decades, this debate was restricted to subjective consideration of historical records of Lake Ontario fishes versus information on the construction of canals hypothesized to have provided a route for colonization in the 19th century and on post-Pleistocene geologic changes to the drainage that might have allowed a much earlier natural invasion. Later, with the development of molecular genetic tools, another, perhaps more objective mode of analysis became available and these studies of two independent genomes indicated that the sea lamprey was indeed indigenous to Lake Ontario (Waldman et al. 2004; Bryan et al. 2005) and Lake Champlain (Bryan et al. 2005; Waldman et al. 2006). But even DNA analyses are equivocal in the sense that highly unlikely, but nonetheless nonfalsifiable alternative scenarios can be proposed to explain what appear to be one-sided results.
Eshenroder provides a service to this controversy by examining in detail, and thus testing, these recent genetic-based publications for their treatment of alternative hypotheses. We, in kind, use this opportunity to reexamine and extend our own analyses. Unlike Eshenroder's comment, our response leads with the genetic argument because if sea lampreys can be reasonably demonstrated to be native to inland New York, then identification of a possible recent dispersal route becomes less important.