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Geographic patterns of introgressive hybridization between native Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) and introduced rainbow trout (O-mykiss) in the South Fork of the Snake River watershed, Idaho



Geographic patterns of introgressive hybridization between native Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) and introduced rainbow trout (O-mykiss) in the South Fork of the Snake River watershed, Idaho



Conservation Genetics 9(1): 49-64



Throughout its native range, the Yellowstone cutthroat trout (YCT), Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri, is declining dramatically in both abundance and distribution as a result of introgression with introduced rainbow trout (RBT), O. mykiss. We sampled over 1,200 trout from the South Fork of the Snake River (SFSR) watershed, in southeastern Idaho and western Wyoming, and measured the extent of introgression of RBT genes into native gene pools of YCT using seven species-specific, co-dominant nuclear genetic markers. We also used mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplotype differences between the two parental trout species to determine the directionality of the hybridization. We found low levels of RBT introgression (only 7% of sampled individuals had one or more RBT alleles) into YCT gene pools, with the majority of hybrids (78%) occurring in mainstem localities of the SFSR and in lower elevation reaches of certain tributaries. Hybridization was bidirectional with respect to mtDNA haplotype, but the majority of hybrids (75%) had YCT maternal haplotypes, indicative of the greater proportion (90%) of YCT-genotypes in the SFSR watershed. The primary factor influencing the geographic distribution of RBT introgressed individuals was fluvial distance from localities of stocking origin. To a lesser extent, elevation, also influenced the distribution of hybrid genotypes, with several entire tributaries and all upper elevation reaches within tributaries harboring only YCT-genotypes. Important management implications of the study suggest targeting particular tributaries and upper reaches within tributaries for YCT protection and exclusion of RBT hybrid colonization.

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Accession: 021091947

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