Conservation Genetics

, Volume 19, Issue 1, pp 71–83 | Cite as

Confirmation of a unique and genetically diverse ‘heritage’ strain of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in a remote Adirondack watershed

  • Spencer A. BruceEmail author
  • Matthew P. HareEmail author
  • Matthew W. Mitchell
  • Jeremy J. Wright
Research Article


In fisheries management, understanding anthropogenic impacts on fish population genetic structure is essential because genetic diversity is a fundamental attribute contributing to a species’ evolutionary capacity. An extended history of supplemental stocking has led to the introgression of genes from non-local, hatchery-reared brook trout (Salvalinus fontinalis) into natural Adirondack populations in the state of New York. Managers have therefore gone to great lengths to protect known or suspected pristine “heritage” populations, but the genetic integrity of most populations is unknown. We used 11 microsatellite loci to examine a putative, but as yet unconfirmed “heritage” population in Dix Pond (Essex County, New York), in an effort to confirm its genetic uniqueness, quantify genetic diversity, and determine the geographic extent of the population. No spatial population structure was found within the Dix Pond/Elk Lake watershed, with minimal signs of introgression from historical stocking. The Dix/Elk population showed allelic richness, and effective population size comparable to the highest diversity heritage population among the four that we used for comparison. These patterns support continued heritage status for the Dix Pond population and recognition of the entire Dix-Elk watershed as habitat for this strain. We conclude this study by discussing how the genetic techniques employed here may help to inform future management decisions associated with the conservation and protection of imperiled populations throughout the globe.


Salvelinus fontinalis Genetic diversity Fisheries Dispersal Landscape genetics Conservation 



This research was carried out with IACUC approval (protocol #13008) from the University at Albany—State University of New York. We thank Rich Preall and the NYSDEC for their input and support related to the conception of this project. We thank Mike Sheridan and Elk Lake lodge for allowing us access, and providing us with additional samples. We are grateful to Tim King for sharing genotype data and M. Bartram for providing samples and data that facilitated determination of genotype cross-comparability. Thanks to Harmony Borchardt-Wier for microsatellite genotyping in the Hare Lab. We also thank Mary Katherine Gonder and Gary Kleppel for their helpful comments and input on earlier versions of this work. Funding from the UAlbany foundation through the Biodiversity, Conservation and Policy program helped to support this work.

Supplementary material

10592_2017_1019_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.3 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1352 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesUniversity at Albany – State University of New YorkAlbanyUSA
  2. 2.New York State Museum, 3140 Cultural Education CenterAlbanyUSA
  3. 3.Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA
  4. 4.Department of BiologyDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA
  5. 5.TroyUSA

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