Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence and allelic frequency data for 12 microsatellite loci were used to analyze population genetic structure and recolonization by rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, following the 1991 Cantara spill on the upper Sacramento River, California. Genetic analyses were performed on 1,016 wild rainbow trout collected between 1993 and 1996 from the mainstem and in 8 tributaries. Wild trout genotypes were compared to genotypes for 79 Mount Shasta Hatchery rainbow trout. No genetic heterogeneity was found 2 years after the spill (1993) between tributary populations and geographically proximate mainstem fish, suggesting recolonization of the upper mainstem directly from adjacent tributaries. Trout collections made in 1996 showed significant year-class genetic variation for mtDNA and microsatellites when compared to fish from the same locations in 1993. Five years after the spill, mainstem populations appeared genetically mixed with no significant allelic frequency differences between mainstem populations and geographically proximate tributary trout. In our 1996 samples, we found no significant genetic differences due to season of capture (summer or fall) or sampling technique used to capture rainbow trout, with the exception of trout collected by electrofishing and hook and line near Prospect Avenue. Haplotype and allelic frequencies in wild rainbow trout populations captured in the upper Sacramento River and its tributaries were found to differ genetically from Mount Shasta Hatchery trout for both years, with the notable exception of trout collected in the lower mainstem river near Shasta Lake, where mtDNA and microsatellite data both suggested upstream colonization by hatchery fish from the reservoir. These data suggest that the chemical spill in the upper Sacramento River produced significant effects over time on the genetic population structure of rainbow trout throughout the entire upper river basin.
Additional publication details
Molecular analysis of population genetic structure and recolonization of rainbow trout following the Cantara spill