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Use of genetic markers to aid in re-establishing migratory connectivity in a fragmented metapopulation of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus)

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Dams and other barriers fragment important migratory corridors for bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus) across the species range. Three dams constructed without fish passage facilities prevented migratory bull trout in the Lake Pend Oreille and Clark Fork River system in Idaho and Montana, USA, from returning to their natal spawning tributaries for nearly 100 years. We genotyped bull trout from 39 spawning tributaries to assemble a baseline data set that we used to develop a real-time genotyping and analysis protocol to assist with upstream fish transport decisions. Self-assignment tests and analysis of blind samples indicated that unknown individuals could be assigned to their region of origin with a high degree of confidence. From 2004 to 2010, genetic assignments were conducted for 259 adult bull trout collected below mainstem dams. Based on genetic assignments, 203 fish were transported upstream above one or more dams. This protocol has helped re-establish connectivity in a fragmented system, providing increased numbers of spawning adults for numerically depressed populations above the dams. We discuss the utility of genetic data for assisting with upstream passage decisions.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Avista Corporation, P.O. Box 1469, Noxon, MT 59853, USA. 2: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Creston Fish and Wildlife Office, 780 Creston Hatchery Road, Kalispell, MT 59901, USA. 3: US Fish and Wildlife Service, Abernathy Fish Technology Center, 1440 Abernathy Creek Road, Longview, WA 98632, USA.

Publication date: 2011-11-21

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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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