Across the great divide: genetic forensics reveals misidentification of endangered cutthroat trout populations

Authors


Jessica Metcalf, Fax no: 303 492 8699; E-mail: jessicalmetcalf@gmail.com

Abstract

Accurate assessment of species identity is fundamental for conservation biology. Using molecular markers from the mitochondrial and nuclear genomes, we discovered that many putatively native populations of greenback cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii stomias) comprised another subspecies of cutthroat trout, Colorado River cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii pleuriticus). The error can be explained by the introduction of Colorado River cutthroat trout throughout the native range of greenback cutthroat trout in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by fish stocking activities. Our results suggest greenback cutthroat trout within its native range is at a higher risk of extinction than ever before despite conservation activities spanning more than two decades.

Ancillary