1. A comprehensive analysis was carried out on the effects of stocking on the genetic structure of Iberian brown trout evolutionary lineages. Introgression and genetic diversity were estimated from allozyme results of 307 populations based on own data (180) and available literature (127). Stocking records, angling regulations and environmental features related to hatchery trout performance were also analysed to determine the underlying mechanisms of the introgression effects.
2. Fifty per cent of analysed populations showed introgression by genes of hatchery origin. The mean introgression estimated by the single locus approach was 0.134. An increment of both heterozygosity and polymorphism was observed when introgression increased in stream-dwelling populations, which could finally produce a homogenisation of the genetic structure of populations and a decrease of the species’ genetic diversity.
3. Introgression rate varied among Iberian evolutionary lineages (Evolutionary Significant Units), and was correlated with the stocking effort, except for the North Atlantic basins. The lack of adaptations for migratory behaviour in hatchery trout could explain the low impact of stocking in North Atlantic rivers where anadromous populations occur.
4. Angling regulation did not seem to influence the survival of hatchery trout. Introgression tends to be higher in heavily stocked localities with fertile waters and stable discharge, which may favour the performance of hatchery trout.
5. Trout management must be based on increasing population size by means of habitat improvement and sustainability of naturally reproducing wild stocks through appropriate angling regulations.