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Fluvial rainbow trout contribute to the colonization of steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in a small stream

Abstract

Life history polymorphisms provide ecological and genetic diversity important to the long term persistence of species responding to stochastic environments. Oncorhynchus mykiss have complex and overlapping life history strategies that are also sympatric with hatchery populations. Passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags and parentage analysis were used to identify the life history, origin (hatchery or wild) and reproductive success of migratory rainbow/steelhead for two brood years after barriers were removed from a small stream. The fluvial rainbow trout provided a source of wild genotypes to the colonizing population boosting the number of successful spawners. Significantly more parr offspring were produced by anadromous parents than expected in brood year 2005, whereas significantly more parr offspring were produced by fluvial parents than expected in brood year 2006. Although hatchery steelhead were prevalent in the Methow Basin, they produced only 2 parr and no returning adults in Beaver Creek. On average, individual wild steelhead produced more parr offspring than the fluvial or hatchery groups. Yet, the offspring that returned as adult steelhead were from parents that produced few parr offspring, indicating that high production of parr offspring may not be related to greater returns of adult offspring. These data in combination with other studies of sympatric life histories of O. mykiss indicate that fluvial rainbow trout are important to the conservation and recovery of steelhead and should be included in the management and recovery efforts.

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Acknowledgments

Funding and materials were provided by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation. We are grateful to the local landowners, G. Ott and V. Stokes, who allowed access to sites on Beaver Creek. M. Newsom provided valuable scientific direction to the project. G. Knott and M. Notaro provided support with local coordination and permitting. K. Martens, B. Fisher, W. Tibbits and N. Glasser assisted in data collection and operation of the weir and tag readers. J. Faler conducted the genetic analysis. Any use of trade names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government. All animal capture and care for this study was permitted under Endangered Species Act permits from the National Marine Fisheries Service (no. 1480), U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service (no. TE-043875) and Washington State collection permit (no. 05-61-4539A and 06-453).

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Correspondence to Dana E. Weigel.

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Weigel, D.E., Connolly, P.J. & Powell, M.S. Fluvial rainbow trout contribute to the colonization of steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in a small stream. Environ Biol Fish 97, 1149–1159 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-013-0204-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10641-013-0204-9

Keywords

  • Colonization
  • Parentage
  • Barrier removal
  • Fitness
  • Life history polymorphism