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Scicomm webinar: development of a genetic baseline for brook trout in North Carolina

Webinar by NCWRC Biologist Jake Rash. Jake explains in easy to understand terms how the NCWRC has been looking at genetic diversity and variation of brook trout to guide management in North Carolina.

Published: 2020

Location: North Carolina

Brook Trout, North Carolina’s only native trout, is a fish of significant biological and cultural importance. As such, the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission (NCWRC) has conducted numerous efforts to support Brook Trout conservation. Beginning in earnest during the 1990s, genetic characterization of the state’s Brook Trout populations is one of the NCWRC’s more enduring and dynamic conservation activities. Initially, genetic testing efforts resulted in over 480 samples being examined and used to develop the genetic baseline’s foundation. As genetic methods advanced, the NCWRC began using more contemporary approaches over the last ten years to advance genetic understanding by more in-depth exploration of Brook Trout diversity and variation. To date, 467 collections (9,507 individuals) from populations across western North Carolina have been surveyed using more descriptive genetic techniques than those used in original assessments. These explorations have provided insight into evolutionary relationships across North Carolina and beyond, impacts of historical hatchery stockings, and the importance of individual populations to overall conservation of Brook Trout. This genetic baseline has served as an invaluable tool in informing management actions, including habitat improvement, population restoration, and land protection in North Carolina and throughout the species’ native range. Although much has been done, we plan to continue supplementing the existing genetic baseline to characterize additional populations and further enhance conservation efforts.