Life history polymorphisms provide ecological and genetic diversity important to the long term persistence of species responding to stochastic environments. Oncorhynchus mykiss have complex and overlapping life history strategies that are also sympatric with hatchery populations. Passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags and parentage analysis were used to identify the life history, origin (hatchery or wild) and reproductive success of migratory rainbow/steelhead for two brood years after barriers were removed from a small stream. The fluvial rainbow trout provided a source of wild genotypes to the colonizing population boosting the number of successful spawners. Significantly more parr offspring were produced by anadromous parents than expected in brood year 2005, whereas significantly more parr offspring were produced by fluvial parents than expected in brood year 2006. Although hatchery steelhead were prevalent in the Methow Basin, they produced only 2 parr and no returning adults in Beaver Creek. On average, individual wild steelhead produced more parr offspring than the fluvial or hatchery groups. Yet, the offspring that returned as adult steelhead were from parents that produced few parr offspring, indicating that high production of parr offspring may not be related to greater returns of adult offspring. These data in combination with other studies of sympatric life histories of O. mykiss indicate that fluvial rainbow trout are important to the conservation and recovery of steelhead and should be included in the management and recovery efforts.
Additional Publication Details
Fluvial rainbow trout contribute to the colonization of steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) in a small stream