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Environ Pollut. 2011 Dec;159(12):3595-603. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2011.08.005. Epub 2011 Aug 31.

The effect of metal pollution on the population genetic structure of brown trout (Salmo trutta L.) residing in the River Hayle, Cornwall, UK.

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King's College London, Metals Metabolism Group, Division of Diabetes and Nutritional Sciences, Franklin Wilkins Building, 150 Stamford Street, London SE1 9NH, UK.


The River Hayle in south-west England is impacted with metals and can be divided into three regions depending on the copper and zinc concentrations: a low-metal upper section; a highly-contaminated middle section and a moderately contaminated lower section. Hayle river water is toxic to metal-naive brown trout, but brown trout are found in the upper and lower regions. The study aimed to evaluate the population genetic structure of River Hayle brown trout and to determine if the highly-contaminated section acts as a chemical barrier to migration. Population genetic analysis indicated that metals were not a barrier to gene flow within the river, but there was a high level of differentiation observed between fish sampled at two sites in the upper region, despite being separated by only 1 km. The metal tolerance trait exhibited by this brown trout population may represent an important component of the species genetic diversity in this region.

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