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

Budy, P. and J. Gaeta. 2018. Brown trout as an invader: A Synthesis of Problems and Perspectives in Western North America. Invited Chapter 12.1 in: The Brown Trout Salmo trutta L.: A primer on a paradigmatic species. Editors: Javier Lobón-Cerviá & Nuria Sanz Ball.llosera. Wiley. USGS FSP: IP-058204


Brown trout are one of the most pervasive and successful invaders worldwide and are ubiquitous across the Intermountain West, USA (IMW). This species is the foundation of extremely popular and economically significant sport fisheries despite well-established negative effects on native fishes and ecosystems, resulting in very challenging, and often opposing, conservation and management goals. Herein, we review the direct (e.g., competition and predation) and indirect (e.g., disease vectors) pathways through which brown trout across the IMW have posed a threat to native species. We discuss the importance of brown trout as economically and culturally important fisheries, especially in novel tailwater ecosystems created by damming. To this end, we surveyed 26 experts from 8 states across the IMW to document the relevance of novel brown trout fisheries in 58 tailwaters and found brown trout are thriving in these novel ecosystems, which are often unsuitable for native fishes. We discuss the challenging interplay between protecting native species and managing novel brown trout fisheries. Notably, the future of exotic brown trout in the IMW is shifting as the prestige of native fisheries is growing and many non-native eradication efforts have occurred. The future of exotic brown trout in the IMW, will depend on the nexus of public sentiment and policy, the effectiveness of eradication efforts, and the effect of climate change on both the native fishes and exotic brown trout.