Parallel efforts by several genetic research groups have tackled common themes relating to management concerns about and recent rehabilitation opportunities for coaster brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis in Lake Superior. The questions that have been addressed include the evolutionary and genetic status of coaster brook trout, the degree of relatedness among coaster populations and their relationship to riverine tributary brook trout populations, and the role and effectiveness of stocking in maintaining and restoring coasters to Lake Superior. Congruent genetic results indicate that coasters are an ecotype (life history variant) rather than an evolutionarily significant unit or genetically distinct strain. Regional structure exists among brook trout stocks, coasters being produced from local populations. Introgression of hatchery genes into wild populations appears to vary regionally and may relate to local population size, habitat integrity, and anthropogenic pressures. Tracking the genetic diversity and integrity associated with captive breeding programs is helping to ensure that the fish used for stocking are representative of their source populations and appropriate for rehabilitation efforts. Comparative analysis of shared samples among collaborating laboratories is enabling standardization of genotype scoring and interpretation as well as the development of a common toolkit for assessing genetic structure and diversity. Incorporation of genetic data into rehabilitation projects will facilitate monitoring efforts and subsequent adaptive management. Together, these multifaceted efforts provide comprehensive insights into the biology of coaster brook trout and enhance restoration options. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2008.
Additional publication details
Conservation genetics of Lake Superior brook trout: Issues, questions, and directions