Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Wisconsin Fishery
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Wisconsin Fishery Project

Using genetic tools to inform conservation of Wisconsin’s native brook trout

July 2017 - June 2019


Participating Agencies

  • Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Brook trout are an important native species in Wisconsin that provide numerous recreational fishing opportunities across the state. Stocking of brook trout has been occurring in Wisconsin since the 1800s, and many brook trout stocked in Wisconsin were derived from non-local sources or domesticated hatchery strains such as those developed in Nashua, New Hampshire. Previous research in our lab has shown that many populations distributed throughout the state contain genetic signatures consistent with domestic strains, including some that had previously been identified as wild. One notable example of this was the Ash Creek population, which was thought to be wild and had been previously used as a broodstock source but was found to contain signatures of domestic populations. This example demonstrates the importance of accurately identifying wild populations that can be used as broodstock sources. Successful propagation programs should also integrate knowledge of population structure across the landscape. Specifically, different broodstock sources should be identified for each genetic management unit across Wisconsin. While significant research has been conducted to identify broodstock sources in the southwest area of the state (southern driftless), little genetic research has been conducted on populations from other areas such as the central sands, northern driftless, and north woods