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Conservation Genetics of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Hybridization with non-native trout presents the need to genetically assess LCT populations for effective management.

Conservation Genetics of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Studying the genetics of Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Background and Significance

Lahontan cutthroat trout (LCT), Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi, have been extirpated from 90% of their historic waters due to habitat fragmentation, non-native trout species, climate change, drought and desiccation of lakes and streams prompting the species to be listed under the Endangered Species Act (USFWS 1975). An ongoing challenge to recovery efforts is the presence of non-native trout, as LCT populations that co-occur with non-native salmonids are decreasing in range and abundance due to loss of habitat, competition, and hybridization. Hybridization is of particular concern as non-native trout easily hybridize with LCT contributing to not only the loss of the two forms of LCT, fluvial and lacustrine, but hybridization can ultimately result in the extinction of the original source population. The ongoing presence of non-native trout suggests the long-term need for real-time high throughput monitoring to assess hybridization in LCT populations in order to create and execute effective management plans. We are developing genotyping panels of identified SNPs to: 1) assess hybridization among LCT and rainbow trout and Yellowstone cutthroat trout and 2) assess genetic diversity of LCT populations range wide.

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