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J Hered. 2008 Mar-Apr;99(2):149-56. doi: 10.1093/jhered/esm118. Epub 2008 Jan 30.

Hybridization dynamics between Colorado's native cutthroat trout and introduced rainbow trout.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, N122 Ramaley Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO 80309, USA.


Newly formed hybrid populations provide an opportunity to examine the initial consequences of secondary contact between species and identify genetic patterns that may be important early in the evolution of hybrid inviability. Widespread introductions of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) into watersheds with native cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii) have resulted in hybridization. These introductions have contributed to the decline of native cutthroat trout populations. Here, we examine the pattern of hybridization between introduced rainbow trout and 2 populations of cutthroat trout native to Colorado. For this study, we utilized 7 diagnostic, codominant nuclear markers and a diagnostic mitochondrial marker to investigate hybridization in a population of greenback cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii stomias) and a population of Colorado River cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii pleuriticus). We infer that cutthroat-rainbow trout hybrid swarms have formed in both populations. Although a mixture of hybrid genotypes was present, not all genotype combinations were detected at expected frequencies. We found evidence that mitochondrial DNA introgression in hybrids is asymmetric and more likely from rainbow trout than from cutthroat trout. A difference in spawning time of the 2 species or differences in the fitness between the reciprocal crosses may explain the asymmetry. Additionally, the presence of intraspecific cytonuclear associations found in both populations is concordant with current hypotheses regarding coevolution of mitochondrial and nuclear genomes.

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