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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.

Related Downloads

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  • Wester Ross Marine Protected Area an introduction
    Presentation by Nature Scot describing the history of the Wester Ross MPA, designation, protected features, management and monitoring, with links to further information. This presentation was delivered at the Wester Ross MPA Discovery Day on 14th October by Sue Pomeroy of Little Loch Broom Marine Life group. .  Posted: 08/11/2022 (709KB)
  • Maerl by Prof Jason Hall-Spencer
    Maerl supports the whole web of life with 100s of species using it for spawning, nursery areas, hiding and feeding. This presentation by Prof Jason Hall-Spencer at Wester Ross MPA Discovery Day on 14th October explains why it is so important to protect maerl habitats. .  Posted: 27/10/2022 (1.92MB)
  • Finding Salmon and Sea trout around the Wester Ross MPA
    This presentation by Peter Cunningham introduces the main wild salmon rivers that flow into the Wester Ross MPA and describes some of the issues, including infestation by sea lice from poorly regulated open cage salmon farms, which threaten wild salmon populations and sea trout within the Wester Ross area. Can the wild salmon populations around the Wester Ross MPA be given additional protection?.  Posted: 27/10/2022 (11.01MB)
  • 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)