The release of hatchery-origin fish into streams with endemics can degrade the genetics of wild populations if interbreeding occurs. Starting in the 1800s, brook trout descendent from wild populations in the northeastern United States were stocked from hatcheries into streams across broad areas of North America to create and enhance fishery resources. Across the southeastern United States, many millions of hatchery-origin brook trout have been released into hundreds of streams, but the extent of introgression with native populations is not well resolved despite large phylogeographic distances between these groups. We used three assessment approaches based on 12 microsatellite loci to examine the extent of hatchery introgression in 406 wild brook trout populations in North Carolina. We found high levels of differentiation among most collections (mean F′ST = 0.718), and among most wild collections and hatchery strains (mean F′ST = 0.732). Our assessment of hatchery introgression was consistent across the three metrics, and indicated that most wild populations have not been strongly influenced by supplemental stocking. However, a small proportion of wild populations in North Carolina appear to have been strongly influenced by stocked conspecifics, or in some cases, may have been founded entirely by hatchery lineages. In addition, we found significant differences in the apparent extent of hatchery introgression among major watersheds, with the Savannah River being the most strongly impacted. Conversely, populations in the Pee Dee River watershed showed little to no evidence of hatchery introgression. Our study represents the first large-scale effort to quantify the extent of hatchery introgression across brook trout populations in the southern Appalachians using highly polymorphic microsatellite markers.
Additional publication details
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Assessing the impact of stocking northern-origin hatchery brook trout on the genetics of wild populations in North Carolina|
|Series title||Conservation Genetics|
|Contributing office(s)||Leetown Science Center|