Population genetic evidence suggests differentiation among evolutionarily significant units of southern and northern Appalachian brook trout, with the zone of contact in southwestern Virginia. Before this differentiation was recognized, brook trout of northern origin were stocked throughout the southeastern United States. In order to determine this differentiation, established allozyme markers were used to classify 56 southwest Virginia populations as southern, northern, or introgressed. Variation at 4 polymorphic loci, including the diagnostic creatine kinase (CK-A2*) locus, indicated that 19 populations were of southern origin, 5 of northern origin, and 32 of mixed genetic origin. Data compiled among genetic studies of brook trout in the southern Appalachians showed that the southern/northern break is sharp, occurring at the New/Roanoke-James watershed divide. New River drainage populations exhibited the southern allele at high frequency, suggesting their historic native character as southern, with presence of northern alleles due to stocking or stream capture events. In conclusion, the present study suggests that management of southern Appalachian brook trout should include: (1) genetically cognizant planning of stocking events, (2) management of populations on a stream-by-stream basis, (3) prioritized conservation of pure southern brook trout populations, and (4) use of southern Appalachian hatchery stocks in restoration efforts.
Part of the book: Biological Resources of Water