Biodviersityof Mexican Trout (Teleostei: Salmonidae: Oncorhynchus): Recent findings, conservation concerns, and management recommendations
Until very recently the diversity of trout in Mexican rivers of the Sierra Madre Occidental has been very poorly understood and only the Rainbow Trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, and the Mexican Golden Trout, 0. chrysogaster, have been recognized. Recent efforts in the last decade by a binational organization of scientists and laypersons interested in the diversity and conservation of Mexican trout, Truchas Mexicanus, have revea led considerable diversity within the river systems of the Pacific Slope south to the Rio Acaponeta . These trout forms are highly differentiated and distinctive, and are considered native to these high-elevation river systems in pine-dominated forests. The increased occurrence of trout growout facilities and hatcheries within the range of these native Oncorhynchus and the escapes from these facilities threaten the native trout diversity through both introgressive hybridization and through resource competition, end products already known to occur in other trout populations in the other areas of North America exposed to exotic hatchery trout. Other threats to the native and previously unknown trout biodiversity in Mexico include timber harvesting, some pollutions associated with these activities, and siltation of critical habitats. Recommendations are provided to aid in the safe management and protection of this diversity which center around the future use of sterile trout in growout facilities and the use of undisturbed buffer zones along streams. The divergence observed in forms of Mexican trout is equivalent to the levels of divergence found between currently recognized subspecies of trout in the Rainbow and Cutthroat trout groups. Upon review of the diversity and divergence known to exist in these groups and our current understanding of conceptualizations of species, it is argued that the recognition of subspecies within these highly diverse trout lineages is inconsistent with the natural evolutionary history of these groups. The long-term use of the Biological Species Concept for these species is argued as not only inappropriate but an inadequate and illogical characterization of diversity. The logical consequences of hanging on to this concept as the operational and theoretical framework of trout diversity would necessitate the synonymization of all Rainbow and Cutthroat trout taxa as subspecies because of the known propensity of these groups to demonstrate introgressive hybridzation in some areas. These subspecies are considered va lid evolutionary lineages that are demonstrate divergence at morphological, genetic, and ecological characters that are well known to many trout taxonomists and biologists. All of these therefore qualify as Evolutionary Species that are easily diagnosable under the Phylogenetic Species Concept and should be recognized as valid species.