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The goal of lake trout rehabilitation efforts in the Great Lakes has been to reestablish inshore lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) populations to self-sustaining levels. A combination of sea lamprey control, stocking of hatchery-reared lake trout, and catch restrictions were used to enhance remnant lake trout stocks in Lake Superior and reestablish lake trout in Lakes Michigan, Huron, Erie, and Ontario. Genetic diversity is important for the evolution and maintenance of successful adaptive strategies critical to population restoration. The loss of genetic diversity among wild lake trout stocks in the Great Lakes imposes a severe constraint on lake trout rehabilitation. The objective of this synthesis is to address whether the particular strain used for stocking combined with the choice of stocking location affects the success or failure of lake trout rehabilitation. Poor survival, low juvenile recruitment, and inefficient habitat use are three biological impediments to lake trout rehabilitation that can be influenced by genetic traits. Evidence supports the hypothesis that the choices of appropriate lake trout strain and stocking locations enhance the survival of lake trout stocked into the Great Lakes. Genetic strategies proposed for lake trout rehabilitation include conservation of genetic diversity in remnant stocks, matching of strains with target environments, stocking a greater variety of lake trout phenotypes, and rehabilitation of diversity at all trophic levels.
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Genetic strategies for lake trout rehabilitation: a synthesis