Conservation Genetics

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 675–689 | Cite as

Population genetic structure and ancestry of steelhead/rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) at the extreme southern edge of their range in North America

  • Alicia Abadía-Cardoso
  • Devon E. Pearse
  • Sandra Jacobson
  • Jack Marshall
  • Dale Dalrymple
  • Frank Kawasaki
  • Gorgonio Ruiz-Campos
  • John Carlos Garza
Research Article


Steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) populations have declined dramatically in many parts of their range in North America, most critically in Southern California, where these anadromous trout are now classified as ‘Endangered’ under the United States Endangered Species Act. The widespread introduction of hatchery rainbow trout, the domesticated freshwater resident form of the species O. mykiss, is one factor threatening the long-term persistence of native steelhead and other trout populations. To identify where native fish of coastal steelhead lineage remained, we performed a population genetic analysis of microsatellite and SNP genotypes from O. mykiss populations at the extreme southern end of their range in Southern California, USA and Baja California, Mexico. In the northern part of this region, nearly all populations appeared to be primarily descendants of native coastal steelhead. However, in the southern, more urbanized part of this region, the majority of the sampled populations were derived primarily from hatchery trout, indicating either complete replacement of native fish or a strong signal of introgression overlaying native ancestry. Nevertheless, these genetically introgressed populations represent potentially critical genetic resources for the continued persistence of viable networks of O. mykiss populations, given the limited native ancestry uncovered in this region and the importance of genetic variation in adaptation. This study elucidates the geographic distribution of native trout populations in this region, and serves as a baseline for evaluating the impacts of hatchery trout on native O. mykiss populations and the success of steelhead conservation and recovery efforts.


Oncorhynchus mykiss Rainbow trout Steelhead SNPs Microsatellites Introgression 



The following people contributed effort, information and energy, without which this project would have been impossible. California Department of Fish and Wildlife: S. Bankston, R. Barabe, H. Block, A. M. Eubanks, M. Larson, C. Lima, D. McCanne, C. McKibbin, J. O’Brien, and P. Riparetti; United States Forest Service: T. Bishop, E. Bracamonte, D. Brook, F. Duncan, C. Fong, R. Howell, A. Krist, M. McIntyre, T. Reeder, N. Sill, J. Sirski, J. Taylor, M. Thomas, L. Welch and C. Whelan; Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton: M. Hamilton, M. Rouse, and B. Shemai; Los Angeles Department of Public Works: C. Ly; Riverside Corona Resource Conservation District: B. Mills, S. Pynn and K. Russell; Mountain Cove: M. Leach, P. Mallon, and L. Vasquez; NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center and University of California Santa Cruz: E. Anderson, V. Apkenas, M. Beakes, D. Boughton, A. Clemento, C. Columbus, H. Fish, C. Michel and J. Notch; Volunteers of Trout Unlimited (TU) Chapter 920 and the affiliated Golden State Flycasters (GSF, San Diego) and colleagues from related organizations: G. Applebee, B. Bechard, S. Burley, V. Carrasquillo, G. Gates, M. Hamilton, D. Irby, W. Johnson, M. McVay, J. Narkevitz, H. Pippen, J. Regan, S. Reynes, D. Shulze, N. Spitzer, G. Strawn, G. Sutherland, D. Volgarino, M. Wagner, B. Watkins and B. Weiler. The Pauma Creek 1997 samples were collected on tribal lands of the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians and we thank them for allowing access. Many of the collections in Southern California were funded by the Fisheries Restoration Grant Program of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife/Game (Project no. 0950015). Trout collections in Baja California were funded by Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología, México (Grant: 4311005-1993PN).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht (outside the USA) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alicia Abadía-Cardoso
    • 1
    • 2
    • 5
  • Devon E. Pearse
    • 1
    • 2
  • Sandra Jacobson
    • 3
    • 6
  • Jack Marshall
    • 3
  • Dale Dalrymple
    • 3
  • Frank Kawasaki
    • 3
  • Gorgonio Ruiz-Campos
    • 4
  • John Carlos Garza
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Fisheries Ecology Division, Southwest Fisheries Science CenterNational Marine Fisheries ServiceSanta CruzUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Marine SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaSanta CruzUSA
  3. 3.Trout Unlimited – Chapter 920 and affiliated Golden State FlycastersSan DiegoUSA
  4. 4.Facultad de CienciasUniversidad Autónoma de Baja CaliforniaEnsenadaMexico
  5. 5.Facultad de Ciencias MarinasUniversidad Autónoma de Baja CaliforniaEnsenadaMexico
  6. 6.California TroutSan DiegoUSA

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