Myxobolus cerebralis caused severe declines in rainbow trout populations across Colorado following its introduction in the 1980s. One promising approach for the recovery of Colorado’s rainbow trout populations has been the production of rainbow trout that are genetically resistant to the parasite. We introduced one of these resistant crosses, known as the GR×CRR (cross between the German Rainbow [GR] and Colorado River Rainbow [CRR] trout strains), to the upper Colorado River. The abundance, survival, and growth of the stocked GR×CRR population was examined to determine if GR×CRRs had contributed offspring to the age-0 population, and determine whether these offspring displayed increased resistance and survival characteristics compared to their wild CRR counterparts. Apparent survival of the introduced GR×CRR over the entire study period was estimated to be 0.007 (±0.001). Despite low survival of the GR×CRRs, age-0 progeny of the GR×CRR were encountered in years 2008 through 2011. Genetic assignments revealed a shift in the genetic composition of the rainbow trout fry population over time, with CRR fish comprising the entirety of the fry population in 2007, and GR-cross fish comprising nearly 80% of the fry population in 2011. A decrease in average infection severity (myxospores fish−1) was observed concurrent with the shift in the genetic composition of the rainbow trout fry population, decreasing from an average of 47,708 (±8,950) myxospores fish−1 in 2009 to 2,672 (±4,379) myxospores fish−1 in 2011. Results from this experiment suggest that the GR×CRR can survive and reproduce in rivers with a high prevalence of M. cerebralis. In addition, reduced myxospore burdens in age-0 fish indicated that stocking this cross may ultimately lead to an overall reduction in infection prevalence and severity in the salmonid populations of the upper Colorado River.
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