Spatiotemporal pattern of hybridization with walleye and genetic divergence in sauger life histories in the Bighorn River sauger population
July 2018 - December 2019
- Wyoming Game & Fish Department
Sauger (Sander canadensis) are listed as a Species of Greatest Conservation Need in Wyoming due to habitat fragmentation, competition with non-native fish, and potential loss of genetic integrity due to coexistence and hybridization with walleye (Sander vitreus). These species hybridize in locations where they are sympatric, and experimental crosses have confirmed viability of hybrid offspring. There is a need to understand hybridization and the degree of threat it poses to native sauger populations. In conjunction with Wyoming Game and Fish Department we are determining the extent of hybridization and describing the genetic structure of sauger. This project will provide essential information for management and conservation of sauger in the Bighorn River system by identifying frequency and extent of hybridization. Characterizing genetic divergence among life histories will also help to prioritize conservation actions if hybridization is detected in one or more of the life history forms of sauger.