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Brook Trout Genetics

EBTJV is connecting conservation practitioners and fisheries managers to the best expert-generated scientific content available.

Preserving the genetic diversity of wild brook trout is one of EBTJV's six action strategies for conserving brook trout in its native range.

"[gaining a better understanding of brook trout genetics] is something we need to do, not only for information gathering and having better knowledge of the fish that we're managing, but also to help guide us into a future that we know is changing." - Merry Gallagher, Maine DFIW

Preserving genetic diversity is akin to protecting the brook trout 'toolbox', the sections of genetic code that might help brook trout populations survive and even thrive in a changing world.

The field of brook trout genetics is growing.   In addition to describing the broad patterns of diversity across the landscape, it offers many techniques for describing or assessing brook trout populations, and data are being used to:

  • ask if and how much influence hatchery fish have had on existing brook trout genetics;
  • estimate the 'effective' population size and measures of diversity in populations;
  • identify unique or at-risk populations;
  • help classify streams or watersheds for different management approaches;
  • identify source populations for restoring brook trout into stream reaches where brook trout had been displaced or lost;
  • identify source populations for bringing brook trout into stream reaches to bolster the diversity of a population at risk of blinking out;
  • locate reaches where invasive species or rare species might exist;
  • evaluate project success, especially after barrier removal,
  • and more

Essentially, genetic information about brook trout populations is being used to help managers prioritize conservation and management actions on the landscape. Managers have other approaches for brook trout conservation such as direct sampling to estimate abundance, distribution, and size structure, and genetic information are best used in concert with these and other tactics. For a more thorough description of possible and emerging uses see publication Kazyak et al. (2021) Development of genetic baseline information to support the conservation and management of wild brook trout in North Carolina.

In collaboration with scientists and experts, we are developing a list of publications and resources for scientific content, and developing user-friendly, digestible take-home messages for everyone's understanding.

 Title   Type 
Lunch n'Learn: Importance of isolation, drift, and genetics for conservation of native Brook Trout Event
New review of genetic rescue News Item
Small Grant Program now open News Item
Lunch n'Learn: Small giants: the critical role small tributaries play in trout ecology Event
Workshop: Understanding Genetics for Successful Conservation and Restoration of Resilient Chesapeake Bay Brook Trout Populations News Item
Sampling strategies for estimating brook trout effective population size - Whitely et al. 2012 File
Population genetics of Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) in the southern Appalachian Mountains File
Conservation and the Genetics of Populations 2nd Edition Link
Development of Genetic Baseline Information to Support the Conservation and Management of Wild Brook Trout in North Carolina Link
Landscape and stocking effects on population genetics of TN brook trout Link
Using genetic data to advance stream fish reintroduction science: a case study in brook trout File
Genetic Rescue in Fragmented Populations of Brook Trout - presentation by A. Whiteley Video
Scicomm webinar: development of a genetic baseline for brook trout in North Carolina Video
The importance of isolation, drift, and genetics for conservation of native brook trout Video

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