In 1926 cannery workers from the Wakefield Fisheries Plant at Little Port Walter in Southeast Alaska captured small trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, from a portion of Sashin Creek populated with a wild steelhead (anadromous O. mykiss) run. They planted them into Sashin Lake which had been fishless to that time and separated from the lower stream by two large waterfalls that prevented upstream migration of any fish. In 1996 we sampled adult steelhead from the lower creek and juvenile O. mykiss from an intermediate portion of the creek, Sashin Lake, and five lakes that had been stocked with fish from Sashin Lake in 1938. Tissue samples from these eight populations were compared for variation in: microsatellite DNA at 10 loci; D-loop sequences in mitochondrial DNA; and allozymes at 73 loci known to be variable in steelhead. Genetic variability was consistently less in the Sashin Lake population and all derived populations than in the source anadromous population. The cause of this reduction is unknown but it is likely that very few fish survived to reproduce from the initial transplant in 1926. Stockings of 50-85 fish into five other fishless lakes in 1938 from Sashin Lake did not result in a similar dramatic reduction in variability. We discuss potential explanations for the observed patterns of genetic diversity in relation to the maintenance of endangered anadromous O. mykiss populations in freshwater refugia.
Additional publication details
A comparison of genetic variation between an anadromous steelhead, Oncorhynchus mykiss, population and seven derived populations sequestered in freshwater for 70 years