Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Survival of whirling disease resistant rainbow trout fry in the wild: A comparison of two strains

August 29, 2018

Introduced pathogens can affect fish populations, and three main factors affect disease occurrence: the environment, host, and pathogen. Manipulating at least one of these factors is necessary for controlling disease. Myxobolus cerebralis, the parasite responsible for salmonid whirling disease, became established in Colorado during the 1990s and caused significant declines in wild Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss populations. Attempts to re-establish Rainbow Trout have focused on manipulating salmonid host resistance. A Rainbow Trout strain known as GR × CRR was developed for stocking in Colorado by crossing a whirling-disease-resistant strain known as the German Rainbow Trout (GR) with the Colorado River Rainbow Trout (CRR). The GR × CRR fish exhibit resistance similar to that shown by GR, and survival and reproduction were expected to be similar to those of CRR. One disadvantage of stocking GR × CRR is that outcrossing and backcrossing could decrease resistance, and laboratory studies have indicated that this can occur. A potential disadvantage of stocking pure GR is lower survival due to domestication. To compare fry survival between the strains, a field experiment was conducted in 1.6-km reaches of nine Colorado streams. Each stream was stocked in August 2014 with 5,000 GR × CRR and 5,000 GR individuals. In October 2014, April 2015, and August 2015, apparent survival was assessed. Two laboratory predation experiments were also conducted. The field experiment revealed that short-term apparent survival was influenced by stream, and growth rate was influenced by strain and stream. However, after 12 months, there was no difference in apparent survival or growth rate between the GR and GR × CRR strains. Laboratory experiments showed that survival did not differ between the strains when confronted with Brown Trout Salmo trutta predation. Our results indicate that the GR strain is a viable option for stocking in streams where M. cerebralis is enzootic. Further evaluation is needed to determine whether GR fish will survive to maturity and reproduce.

Publication Year 2018
Title Survival of whirling disease resistant rainbow trout fry in the wild: A comparison of two strains
DOI 10.1002/aah.10040
Authors Brian W. Avila, Dana L. Winkelman, Eric R. Fetherman
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Aquatic Animal Health
Index ID 70227930
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Seattle