Natural hybridization between arctic char (salvelinus-alpinus) and brook trout (s-fontinalis) - evidence from northern Labrador


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Electrophoretic analysis of successive samples of Salvelinus collected in the Fraser River watershed of northern Labrador in 1984 and 1986 revealed the existence of natural hybrids between Arctic char (Salvelinus alpinus) and brook trout (S. fontinalis). We examined 11 electrophoretic loci in liver tissue; 10 loci were informative and six were diagnostic of the two species and their hybrids. The electrophoretic phenotypes of some hybrid specimens sugested that they were second-generation hybrids and/or backcrosses to the parental species. Hybrids were represented by six different year classes, indicating that crossing between the species in the system is a regular occurrence. The hybrids, although visually difficult to distinguish from brook trout, were meristicaîly intermediate or more closely resembled Arctic char. The observations raise a number of questions regarding the ecological circumstances promoting hybridization in the evolution of Arctic char and brook trout populations. The results stress the need for restrictions on introducing brook trout into systems with original populations of Arctic char. Further, Arctic char from the Fraser River are commonly used for aquaculture research and development; therefore, there is a clear need to screen fish carefully to determine whether or not they represent introgressed gene pools.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1437-1445
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1991


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