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Environmental factors correlate with hybridization in stocked brook charr (Salvelinus fontinalis)

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Stocking is a common practice throughout the world that may increase hybridization between wild and domesticated populations. Stocking intensity alone does not always fully explain the observed patterns of hybridization, suggesting that the intensity of hybridization may be modulated by environmental factors. Using brook charr (i.e., brook trout, Salvelinus fontinalis) as a model, the objective of this study was to assess the relative effect of environmental factors and stocking intensity on the level of hybridization observed within brook charr from 15 lacustrine populations of two wildlife reserves in Quebec, Canada. The level of hybridization significantly increased with (i) the number of stocking events, (ii) a reduction in both surface area and maximum depth of lakes, and (iii) a reduction in dissolved oxygen and an increase in temperature and pH. These results suggest that levels of hybridization were affected by the availability and quality of lacustrine habitats as well as by the extent of propagule pressure. Our study provides the first demonstration that knowledge of environmental features may help predict the effects of stocking on the genetic integrity of wild populations.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: IBIS (Institut de Biologie Intégrative et des Systèmes), Pavillon Charles-Eugène-Marchand, Université Laval, Québec, QC G1V 0A6, Canada. 2: Département de biologie, Université Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC J1K 2R1, Canada.

Publication date: May 5, 2012

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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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