Genetic research shows steelhead, trout links

healthy steelhead runs in Northwest depend on rainbow trout productivity

New research shows that a steelhead, such as the large fish in this image, is just one of the options for steelhead reproduction, along with other fish such as rainbow trout. (Photo by John McMillan)

By David Stauth

SUMMIT COUNTY — Genetic research is showing that healthy steelhead runs in Pacific Northwest streams can depend heavily on the productivity of their stay-at-home counterparts, rainbow trout.

Steelhead and rainbow trout look different, grow differently, and one heads off to sea while the other never leaves home. But the life histories and reproductive health of wild trout and steelhead are tightly linked and interdependent, more so than has been appreciated, a new Oregon State University study concludes.

The research could raise new challenges for fishery managers to pay equally close attention to the health, stability and habitat of wild rainbow trout, the researchers say, because healthy steelhead populations may require healthy trout populations. Continue reading

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