Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 1301
Title: Early marine migration patterns of wild coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki), steelhead trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), and their hybrids
Author: M. E. Moore, Fred Goetz, Donald M. Van Doornik, E. P. Tezak, T. P. Quinn, Jose J. Reyes-Tomassini, B. A. Berejikian
Publication Year: 2010
Journal: PLOS ONE
Volume: 5
Issue: 9
Pages: e12881

Background Hybridization between coastal cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki clarki) and steelhead or rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) has been documented in several streams along the North American west coast. The two species occupy similar freshwater habitats but the anadromous forms differ greatly in the duration of marine residence and migration patterns at sea. Intermediate morphological, physiological, and performance traits have been reported for hybrids but little information has been published comparing the behavior of hybrids to the pure species. Methodology/Principal Findings This study used acoustic telemetry to record the movements of 52 cutthroat, 42 steelhead x cutthroat hybrids, and 89 steelhead smolts, all wild, that migrated from Big Beef Creek into Hood Canal (Puget Sound, Washington). Various spatial and temporal metrics were used to compare the behavior of the pure species to their hybrids. Median hybrid residence time, estuary time, and tortuosity values were intermediate compared to the pure species. The median total track distance was greater for hybrids than for either cutthroat or steelhead. At the end of each track, most steelhead (80%) were located near or north of the Hood Canal, as expected for this seaward migrating species, whereas most cutthroat (89%) were within 8 kilometers of the estuary. Most hybrids (70%) were detected leaving Hood Canal, though a substantial percentage (20%) remained near the Big Beef Creek estuary. More hybrids (7.5%) than pure cutthroat (4.5%) or steelhead (0.0%) were last detected in the southern reaches of Hood Canal. Conclusions/Significance Given the similarity in freshwater ecology between the species, differences in marine ecology may play an important role in maintaining species integrity in areas of sympatry.

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