Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)

Science Center Objects

Species Studied

Cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii)

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout

Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii henshawi). Credit: USGS, WFRC (Public domain.)

Cutthroat trout are a Department of the Interior trust species. Historically, 14 geographically isolated cutthroat trout subspecies occupied much of western North America. Habitat degradation and introduction of non-native species has negatively impacted native cutthroat trout populations and three subspecies (Lahontan, Paiute, and Greenback) are presently listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Widespread introductions of non-native rainbow trout into cutthroat trout habitats and consequent hybridization has resulted in loss of native cutthroat trout throughout their range. Because rainbow-cutthroat hybrids are viable and fertile, native cutthroat trout populations are often replaced by hybrid swarms following rainbow trout introductions, causing concern for cutthroat trout conservation. Research studies at WFRC aim to generate a better understanding of the genomic consequences of hybridization between rainbow and cutthroat trout. This research will help clarify how the merging of genomes from two different species affects the survival and reproductive potential of their hybrids and how the hybrids might respond and adapt within an environment.