Larger streams are critical for wild brook trout conservation
By Penn State University
The Latin name for brook trout — Salvelinus fontinalis — means “speckled fish of the fountains,” but a new study by Penn State researchers suggests, for the first time, that the larger streams and rivers those fountains, or headwaters, flow into may be just as important to the brook trout.
With few exceptions, brook trout are found now only in small mountain streams that stay cold enough year-round to meet their biological needs, below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Because these trout in the United States are threatened by a warming climate, many have assumed those headwater habitats alone are critical for their survival.
But a genetic analysis of brook trout in streams across the 460-square-mile Loyalsock Creek drainage in north-central Pennsylvania shows that the fish are very similar genetically, suggesting close relatedness among populations. The only way that could have happened, according to researcher Shannon White, postdoctoral scholar in the College of Agricultural Sciences, is fish moving between tributaries in the 86-mile-long Loyalsock Creek.
Read more in Ecological Applications: https://esajournals.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/eap.2147