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Introgression despite protection: the case of native brown trout in Natura 2000 network in Italy

  • Andrea Splendiani
  • Massimo Giovannotti
  • Tommaso Righi
  • Tatiana Fioravanti
  • Paola Nisi Cerioni
  • Massimo Lorenzoni
  • Antonella Carosi
  • Gianandrea La Porta
  • Vincenzo Caputo BarucchiEmail author
Research Article

Abstract

Mediterranean brown trout is subject to several serious threats such as pollution, water abstraction, habitat alteration and especially genetic introgression with domestic strains used for stocking activities. Despite this latter issue has largely been debated by scientists, local managers and stakeholders for decades, official stocking practices with domestic trout still persists in several countries (Italy included), even if there are laws explicitly prohibiting introduction of organisms of non-local origin. Probably, the last opportunity to conserve native brown trout populations is represented by protected areas. Therefore, in the present study, we aimed to verify the role of the Nature 2000 network and a national park as valid tools to guarantee the survival of native brown trout in the Apennines. Partial mitochondrial DNA control region sequence analysis and genotyping of the locus LDH-C1* and 11 microsatellites were used to investigate the genetic diversity of three rivers from central Italy. For all rivers investigated a temporal analysis of introgression was also carried out. The genetic diversity of three domestic stocks was included in the sampling design for comparison. The main results of this study indicated that: (i) the genetic diversity of brown trout in central Italy is very complex and (ii) its conservation is seriously threatened by genetic introgression phenomena still ongoing. The only samples showing no introgression or a decrease in genetic introgression were those isolated by the presence of natural and/or artificial barriers to fish movements rather than protected by inhabiting rivers within the Natura 2000 network. This observation prompts an important reflection on issues concerning fluvial continuity restoration and suggests that barrier removal should be undertaken with caution in order to avoid the concrete risk of domestic trout spreading that could promote additional loss of native brown trout biodiversity.

Keywords

Mediterranean native trout Introgression Natura 2000 network Biodiversity conservation 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are grateful to Gary A. Winans (Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA, Seattle, Washington, USA) and an anonymous reviewer for the their constructive comments on the earlier version of this manuscript. The authors are grateful to Andrea Gandolfi (Istituto Agrario di San Michele all’Adige, Fondazione Edmund Mach, San Michele All’Adige, Italy) for his useful suggestions about the statistical treatment of the data. Funding was provided by European Commission (LIFE 12 NAT/IT/000940) and Università Politecnica delle Marche.

Supplementary material

10592_2018_1135_MOESM1_ESM.pptx (105 kb)
A) Plot of mean LnP(K) values for 8 wild brown trout samples and 3 hatchery samples from central Italy and B) Plot of MedMeaK and MaxMeaK indices.. Supplementary material 1 (PPTX 104 KB)
10592_2018_1135_MOESM2_ESM.docx (22 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOCX 21 KB)
10592_2018_1135_MOESM3_ESM.docx (74 kb)
Supplementary material 3 (DOCX 73 KB)
10592_2018_1135_MOESM4_ESM.docx (15 kb)
Supplementary material 4 (DOCX 14 KB)

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Splendiani
    • 1
  • Massimo Giovannotti
    • 1
  • Tommaso Righi
    • 1
  • Tatiana Fioravanti
    • 1
  • Paola Nisi Cerioni
    • 1
  • Massimo Lorenzoni
    • 2
  • Antonella Carosi
    • 2
  • Gianandrea La Porta
    • 1
  • Vincenzo Caputo Barucchi
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’AmbienteUniversità Politecnica delle MarcheAnconaItaly
  2. 2.Dipartimento di Chimica, Biologia e BiotecnologieUniversità di PerugiaPerugiaItaly

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