The high-elevation headwater streams of the Pinaleno Mountains support small populations of threatened Apache trout Oncorhynchus apache that were stocked following the chemical removal of nonnative salmonids in the 1960s. A fisheries survey to assess population composition, growth, and size structure confirmed angler reports of infrequent occurrences of Oncorhynchus spp. exhibiting the external morphological characteristics of both Apache trout and rainbow trout O. mykiss. Nonlethal tissue samples were collected from 50 individuals in the headwaters of each stream. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequencing and amplification of nuclear microsatellite loci were used to determine the levels of genetic introgression by rainbow trout in Apache trout populations at these locations. Sexually dimorphic introgression from the spawning of male rainbow trout with female Apache trout was detected using mtDNA and microsatellites. Estimates of the degree of hybridization based on three microsatellite loci were 10-88%. The use of nonlethal DNA genetic analyses can supplement information obtained from standard survey methods and be useful in assessing the relative importance of small and sensitive populations with a history of nonnative introductions.
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Evidence of sexually dimorphic introgression in Pinaleno Mountain Apache trout