Date of Award


Degree Name

Biological Sciences


College of Science

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Charles Sommerville

Second Advisor

Donald C. Tarter

Third Advisor

Michael Seidel

Fourth Advisor

Leonard J. Deutsch


Prioritization of taxa has become a necessity due to limited resources available for conservation. Conservation efforts are often concentrated on those threatened and endangered species with the highest taxonomic importance. The silver pike is a rare game fish, often accounting for less than 1% of a total pike population where it is found. Although silver pike are normally found in association with northern pike, they have distinct morphological characteristics and have not been shown to hybridize with the northern pike. Still, many fisheries biologists consider the silver pike to be a color variant of the northern pike, and to date the silver pike has not been assigned to a taxonomic unit. This study employs the use of a molecular marker on the mitochondrial genome to determine the phylogenetic relationships between the northern pike, silver pike and muskellunge. Mitochondrial DNA was amplified from individual scales, cloned into the pCR®2.1 vector and sequenced at the Marshall Core Facility. The sequences were aligned using ClustalX (Thompson et al., Nuc. Acids Res. 22:4673), and phylogenetic distances and tree topologies were inferred using the programs of the PHYLIP package (Felsenstein, Cladistics 5:164). Sequence data was sufficient to distinguish between the northern pike and muskellunge. No sequence variation was found between the silver pike and northern pike. Resulting tree topologies were unable to distinguish between the silver pike and northern pike in all cases. Molecular data supports the hypothesis that the silver pike is a color variant of the northern pike and not a separate species.


Mitochondrial DNA.

Pike – Variation.

Pike – Phylogeny.