Water Resources Research Act Program

Details for Project ID 2020CO150B

A Genetic Assessment of Cutthroat Trout Movement Across the Continental Divide

Institute: Colorado
Year Established: 2020 Start Date: 2020-03-01 End Date: 2021-02-28
Total Federal Funds: $5,000 Total Non-Federal Funds: Not available

Principal Investigators: Yoichiro Kanno

Abstract: Transbasin diversions allow stakeholders to efficiently distribute water resources to areas with greatest demand. They may also connect previously isolated watersheds and aquatic biota, with the potential to result in unintended hybridization. This represents a challenge for conserving native cutthroat trout subspecies in Colorado that have evolved due to physical isolation. However, the effects of transbasin diversions on fish movement, gene flow, and genetic diversity are poorly understood and thus, not currently recognized as a potential impediment to native trout conservation. My proposed research goal is to investigate cutthroat trout movement across the Continental Divide via the Grand Ditch using genetic data (i.e., microsatellite loci). This information is crucial for the ongoing large-scale effort to restore federally listed greenback cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii stomias; GBCT) to the Long Draw region of the headwaters of the Cache la Poudre River. My results will have broader implications for future conservation of native cutthroat trout and water management in the face of climate change, given that there are 44 transbasin diversions in Colorado. Balancing water supply and conservation is critically important in Colorado, where there is a significant and growing demand for water with implications for biodiversity and ecosystem health.