The trout of northwest Mexico represent an undescribed group of fish considered part of the Oncorhynchus mykiss (Pacific trout) complex of species and subspecies. Recent genetic studies have shown these fish to have important genetic diversity and a unique evolutionary history when compared to coastal rainbow trout. Increased levels of allelic diversity have been found in this species at the southern extent of its range. In this study we describe the trout in the Sierra Madre Occidental from the rios Yaqui, Mayo, Casas Grandes and de Bavispe, and their relationship to the more southern distribution of Mexican golden trout (O. chrysogaster) using 11 microsatellite loci. Microsatellite allelic diversity in Mexican trout was high with a mean of 6.6 alleles/locus, average heterozygosity = 0.35, and a mean Fst = 0.43 for all loci combined. Microsatellite data were congruent with previously published mtDNA results showing unique panmictic population structure in the Rio Yaqui trout that differs from Pacific coastal trout and Mexican golden trout. These data also add support for the theory of headwaters transfer of trout across the Continental Divide from tributaries of the Rio de Bavispe into the Rio Casas Grandes. Rio Mayo trout share a close genetic relationship to trout in Rio Yaqui, but sample sizes from the Rio Mayo prevent significant comparisons in this study. Microsatellite analyses show significant allelic frequency differences between Rio Yaqui trout and O. chrysogaster in Sinaloa and Durango Mexico, adding further support for a unique evolutionary status for this group of northwestern Mexican trout.
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Microsatellite analyses of the trout of northwest Mexico