Environmental and anthropogenic correlates of hybridization between westslope cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi) and introduced rainbow trout (O. mykiss)
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- Yau, M.M. & Taylor, E.B. Conserv Genet (2013) 14: 885. doi:10.1007/s10592-013-0485-8
Hybridization with introduced taxa is one of the major threats to the persistence of native biodiversity. The westslope cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii lewisi) is found in southeastern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta, Canada, and adjacent areas of Montana, Idaho, and Washington State, USA. Through much of this area, native populations are threatened by hybridization with introduced rainbow trout (O. mykiss). We surveyed 159 samples comprising over 5,000 fish at 10 microsatellite DNA loci to assess the level of admixture between native westslope cutthroat trout (wsct) and introduced rainbow trout in southwestern Alberta. Admixture levels (qwsct of 0 = pure rainbow trout, qwsct of 1.0 = pure westslope cutthroat trout) ranged from <0.01 to 0.99 and averaged from 0.72 to 0.99 across seven drainage areas. Regression tree analyses indicated that water temperature, elevation, distance to the nearest stocking site, and distance to the nearest railway line were significant components of a model that explained 34 % of the variation across sites in qwsct across 58 localities for which habitat variables were available. Partial dependence plots indicated that admixture with rainbow trout increased with increasing water temperature and distance to the nearest railway line, but decreased with increasing elevation and distance from stocking site to sample site. Our results support the hypothesis that westslope cutthroat trout may be less susceptible to hybridization with rainbow trout in colder, higher elevation streams, and illustrate the interaction between abiotic and anthropogenic factors in influencing hybridization between native and introduced taxa.