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

Wyoming Project

Genetic assessment of Yellowstone cutthroat trout across the Bighorn GMU

March 2021 - June 2023


Participating Agencies

  • Wyoming Game and Fish Department

The Yellowstone cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri (YSC) is a species of greatest conservation need in Wyoming and is threatened by hybridization with non-native rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss (RBT). In addition to hybridization, there is a long history of movement of YSC populations through stocking programs and it remains unclear whether current YSC populations are endemic or descendants of broodstock. Although some broad-scale geographic work on the genetics of Yellowstone cutthroat trout populations has been done in the western portion of the subspecies’ range, no genetic work has focused on genetic assessment of YSC structure across the eastern portion of its range (including the Bighorn-Wind GMU).This project is in collaboration with Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Our goal is to genetically characterize YSC populations in the Bighorn-Wind GMUs to assess genetic diversity and determine levels of inter and intraspecific hybridization of populations. We will obtain genetic data from previously collected YSC tissue samples using genotyping-by-sequencing methods (GBS) which will allow us to discern fine-scale spatial population structure and distinguish hybrid individuals.