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Title: The development and application of molecular and computational genetics tools for the conservation and management of brown trout (Salmo trutta)
Author: Keenan, Kevin
ISNI:       0000 0004 5371 498X
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2015
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Brown trout (Salmo trutta L. 1758) is one of the most polymorphic vertebrate species described. While originally endemic to Europe, West Asia, and North Africa, it is now found in all continents, bar Antarctica. Its presence outside its natural distribution range is attributed to anthropogenic mediated introductions, due to its popularity, both as fine cuisine and a formidable sport fish. In many countries such as Canada, New Zealand, and Argentina, S. trutta has become a successful invasive species, competing with and often displacing native species. Despite its success elsewhere, S. trutta populations within its native range are exposed to a number of pressures that potentially threaten their long-term sustainability. These include, habitat disturbance and fragmentation, pollution, over exploitation, competition with introduced species, as well as stocking activities. Of principal importance for ensuring the sustain ability of S. trutta populations is a sound understanding of the distribution and drivers of diversity, in particular genetic variation. This thesis primarily focuses on the study of population genetic structure of S. trutta in Lough Neagh, Northern Ireland. This Lough, the largest in the British Isles, is highly productive, relatively shallow, and supports a commercial fishery, in which adult migratory S. trutta are intermittently exploited. Angling of adult S. trutta that either migrate from the Lough into the surrounding rivers and tributaries to spawn, or are resident within these watersheds throughout their entire life cycle, is not only very popular pastime, but also an important component of the local economy. Using a comprehensive sample set comprising over 5,400 individuals, a high resolution spatial map of genetic structuring within and among the major tributary rivers and streams around the Lough Neagh catchment was established. The populations, inferred using multiple analytic methods, are shown to provide high accuracy for genetic stock identification of individuals of unknown origin. A preliminary assessment of a mixed stock sample from Lough Neagh indicated that one catchment, Six Mile Water, is the single largest contributor to the mixed fishery, suggesting is deserves special focus in any management plan aiming to ensure the sustainability of the commercial fishery. The description of genetic structuring around Lough Neagh is presented as an important progression towards the establishment of a long-term management plan for S. trutta in this region. In addition to this major study (chapter 5), three additional studies introducing; 1) a powerful marker panel consisting of 38 microsatellite for S. trutta population genetics investigations, 2) a general purpose software for population genetic analyses, and 3) a software application for the exploration of gene flow, are also presented (chapters 2-4). Two further studies, one examining genetic variation in two populations of S. trutta from the Scottish highlands previously reported to be monomorphic (chapter 6), and another investigating the genetic consequences of a catastrophic fish kill for a population of S. trutta (chapter 7) also provide further insights of direct relevance to the conservation or management this important fish species.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available