Genetic differentiation between Atlantic salmon populations in the Windermere catchment
Hartley, S.E. | Pickering, A.D.
Genetic analysis, using single locus probes for genomic DNA, revealed that the juvenile Atlantic salmon populations in the Rivers Leven, Rothay and Troutbeck were related but genetically distinct. This genetic differentiation is greater than might be expected (by comparison with other salmon populations in the UK) and it is recommended that no action is taken which might promote genetic exchange between the three rivers. Thus, future fisheries management practices should treat the salmon from each site as separate genetic stocks. It is unlikely that any attempts to encourage fish currently spawning in the River Leven (downstream of Windermere) to utilize the upper catchment will be successful. The faster growth rate of juvenile salmon in the River Leven, compared with the River Rothay, probably results from a difference in temperature between the inflowing streams and the main outflow of Windermere. Precocious sexual maturation of some male parr was found in all three populations but the incidence (13-33%) is well within the range reported for other waters. Because of their enhanced growth rate, it is likely that some of the precocious males in the River Leven were 0+ fish. A very high incidence of hybridization (>18%) between Atlantic salmon and brown/sea trout was found in Troutbeck but not in the other rivers. Mitochondrial DNA analysis of these hybrids revealed them to be the product of several, independent cross-fertilizations involving both sexes of both species. The implications of this finding are discussed in relation to the availability of suitable spawning sites in Troutbeck.Show more [+] Less [-]