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Nonnative brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) and the demise of native brown trout (Salmo trutta) in northern boreal lakes: stealthy, long-term patterns?

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This study of 193 boreal lakes of northern Sweden suggests a long-term detrimental impact of introduced brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) on brown trout (Salmo trutta) populations. Thirteen of 65 (20%) brown trout populations in lakes exposed to brook trout went extinct, whereas the extinction rate in unexposed lakes was significantly lower (2%). We verified other studies that indicate that altitude strongly affects the distribution of the two species; brown trout populations in our higher altitude lakes were more sensitive to impact from brook trout. In 28 lakes above 285 m, 12 trout populations exposed to brook trout went extinct, while only one population became extinct in 37 lakes below 285 m. No effects of other environmental factors were detected (e.g., water chemistry, stocking of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), fish species community assembly, migration barriers, or lake morphometry on brown trout extinction). The time lag between the first record of brook trout introduction and subsequent extinction of brown trout was two decades on average (maximum 70 years). Even though further stocking of brook trout has been stopped, our analysis suggest that existing sympatric populations may continue to pose an extinction threat to brown trout.

Notre étude de 193 lacs boréaux du nord de la Suède laisse croire à un impact négatif de l'introduction de l'omble de fontaine (Salvelinus fontinalis) sur les populations de truites brunes (Salmo trutta). Treize de 65 (20 %) populations lacustres de truites exposées à l'omble de fontaine sont disparues, alors que le taux d'extinction dans les lacs sans ombles est significativement plus bas (2 %). Nous avons vérifié d'autres travaux qui indiquent que l'altitude affecte fortement la répartition des deux espèces: les populations de truites brunes dans nos lacs de plus haute altitude sont plus sensibles à l'impact des ombles de fontaine. Dans 28 lacs situés à plus de 285 m, 12 populations de truites exposées aux ombles de fontaine ont disparu, alors qu'une seule a disparu dans 37 lacs situés sous 285 m. Il n'y a pas d'effet décelable des autres facteurs du milieu (tels la chimie de l'eau, l'empoissonnement de truites arc-en-ciel (Oncorhynchus mykiss), la composition spécifique de la communauté de poissons, les barrières à la migration et la morphométrie des lacs, sur l'extinction des truites brunes). Le délai entre la première introduction connue de l'omble de fontaine et l'extinction subséquente de la truite brune est en moyenne de deux décennies (maximum 70 ans). Bien que les empoissonnements additionnels d'omble de fontaine aient cessé, notre analyse indique que les populations sympatriques existantes peuvent continuer à poser un risque d'extinction pour la truite brune.[Traduit par la Rédaction]

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2007

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  • Published continuously since 1901 (under various titles), this monthly journal is the primary publishing vehicle for the multidisciplinary field of aquatic sciences. It publishes perspectives (syntheses, critiques, and re-evaluations), discussions (comments and replies), articles, and rapid communications, relating to current research on cells, organisms, populations, ecosystems, or processes that affect aquatic systems. The journal seeks to amplify, modify, question, or redirect accumulated knowledge in the field of fisheries and aquatic science. Occasional supplements are dedicated to single topics or to proceedings of international symposia.
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