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Protecting genetic diversity

Compared to the threatened fish populations of tropical rivers like the Mekong (where the WRFT biologist became familiar with over 100 freshwater fish species in the 1990s some of which were threatened and have not been recorded since), the freshwater fish populations of Scotland and Wester Ross are all relatively young. Even so, during the 10,000 years since the wild salmon, trout and charr initially colonized the freshwaters of Wester Ross the genetic make up of different populations has diverged. There has been much recent interest in finding out more about population structuring within salmon, trout and charr population. It is clear that there is much genetic biodiversity within species, and WRFT is currently collecting DNA samples from salmon and trout (e.g. Loch Maree Wild Trout Project) to learn about population structuring. WRFT has also provided support for other workers learning about charr population structuring.

At one end of the spectrum are fish populations which have retained their original genepool, or evolved without interference from man, for example Arctic charr populations in the larger lochs. At the other end of the genetic spectrum are fish populations which are of stocked origin, for example the Brook trout population in Loch an Uaine which was stocked over 100 years ago.

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  • Little Gruinard juvenile fish assessment 2006 report
    This illustrated report presents the results of the 2006 WRFT Little Gruinard electro-fishing survey. Relationships between juvenile salmon abundance and habitat characteristics are discussed. The natural production of juvenile salmon in this Special Area of Conservation (SAC) for Atlantic salmon could be strengthened through restoring levels of natural fertility within the Little Gruinard catchment area.  Posted: 22/09/2008 (964KB)