Salmon in Patagonia Show Diverse Lineage

Salmon in Patagonia Show Diverse Lineage
Chinook salmon at Austral Kings (australkings.com) average 35 pounds, but fish over 50 pounds are caught weekly. More important, there are huge numbers of salmon visibly rolling through much of the prime season and they are chrome-bright and full of fight near tidewater. This photo originally appeared in the April-May 2017 issue of Fly Fisherman in the story "Rise of the Southern Kingdom." Ken Morrish photo

Salmon in Patagonia have become big business, both for aquaculture and sportsmen. Deliberate and accidental introductions of pacific salmon in the binational region that encompasses areas of both Chile and Argentina have established self-sustaining populations of anadromous fish that run from the ocean to headwater streams to spawn. New genomics research published in the online scientific journal Nature.com is showing a wide diversity in the genetic lineage of non-native Chilean salmon that can be traced to various sources.

Initial commercial attempts to stock Chinook salmon (Oncorynchus Tshawytscha) worldwide date back to the 1870's, but outside of their native range in the pacific northwest, only populations in New Zealand and Patagonia have become embedded in local ecologies. Prior to their introduction, neither region had native salmonids, owing to their positions in the southern hemisphere and the thermal isolation tropical seas present to migration for cold water species. And while the strains of fish that have adapted well to the South Island of New Zealand have origins that can be traced to specific gene pools of the Sacramento river in California, the fish of Patagonia show more genetic diversity spread over a much larger geographic area, with wider climate and aquatic variables. The success of various bloodlines in diverse stream and river environments may give an indication of how certain races of fish may have become better adapted to specific conditions in North America that are paralleled in Patagonia.

Researchers Cristian Correa of the Universidad Austral de Chile and Paul Moran from the Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle sampled tissue from fin clips taken from Chinook captured in coastal Chile across a wide area ranging from 39 to 48 degrees south latitude. This represents a distance of nearly 800 miles. With the advent of salmon aquaculture in the late 1970's and early 1980's, many new strains of fish were introduced to the region via both open-ocean and net-pen operations. Open-ocean farming techniques release juvenile fish from hatchery operations into waters that flow to the ocean, where the fish mature and return to the streams to spawn, homing in on them via a poorly understood mechanism that probably includes both olfactory and magnetic geolocation. Net-pen operations, on the other hand, raise fish in enclosed pens in salt water pens offshore for the entire life of the fish, when they are harvested. However, net-pen operations have proven to not have acheived 100% containment of their product, with large numbers of both reported and unreported fish escaping into the environment.

In contrast to the New Zealand fish and the incidence of a very small number of Chinook sampled in the Chilean far South that show Sacramento genetics (below 51 degrees south, where limited farming is conducted), the fish in the northern reaches all appear to have come from Lower Columbia River and Puget Sound stock, with certain rivers seeming to have favored specific races of fish. An example of this would be where three strains of Chinook were introduced into a small stream on Quinchao Island, Chiloe at 42 degrees south. The fish had origins from the Cowlitz river spring run originating from the west slope of the Cascades in Washington, a strain from the Bonneville Hatchery on the Columbia, and a strain from the University of Washington at Seattle of unnamed origin. Of the three, only the Cowlitz spring run became established, raising questions of whether conditions in the Chilean stream were favorable to fish that had attributes for spring run spawning, such as lower temperatures or other chemistry such as elevated tannins from snowmelt.


If adaptive characteristics in specific races of fish that provide advantages in the natural world can be identified, then conservation efforts in reintroduction of native fishes to remediated or newly protected environments could be enhanced. Insights being provided via the new sciences of genomics and metabolomics are beginning to show promise for more effective management of fish living in the wild.


Get Your Fish On.

Plan your next fishing and boating adventure here.

Recommended for You

American Rivers today released its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers, identifying ten rivers facing imminent threats. News

2019 Most Endangered Rivers

Fly Fisherman - April 16, 2019

American Rivers today released its annual list of America's Most Endangered Rivers,...

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere. Fly Tying

Fly Tying Chip's Monster Magic Fly

Dwayne 'Chip' Cromarty - January 15, 2016

Chip's Monster Magic. Designed in Saskatchewan's pike paradise - works anywhere.

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly. Fly Tying

Tying the Strong Arm Merkin

David W. Skok - July 09, 2019

Here are step-by-step instructions for tying the Strong Arm Merkin fly.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

 Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Getting Started In Fly Fishing

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

Casting Backhand in Tight Quarters

A backhand cast is when you use your backcast to deliver the fly.

Black Beauty

Black Beauty

Master fly tier Charlie Craven discuss the tools and materials needed to tie the Black Beauty.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that occurred on what appeared to be a routine guide trip on Sunday, June 23, 2019 in a shallow lagoon near San Pedro, Brazil. Industry

Fly Fishing Community Stunned by Twin Slayings on Belize Saltwater Flat

Fly Fisherman Online Staff - June 27, 2019

The fly fishing communities in the U.S. and Belize are mourning after twin slayings that...

As you explore your home water, keep in mind what they are are eating to select the best carp flies! Flies

The 15 Best Carp Flies

Jay Zimmerman - September 27, 2016

As you explore your home water, keep in mind what they are are eating to select the best carp...

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range. United States

Wind River Range Wyoming

Greg Thomas - July 27, 2015

Golden riches in Wyoming's high-country heaven of the Wind River Range.

See More Stories

More Industry

Fly Fisherman's documentary Industry

Fly Fisherman Magazine Documentary Recognized by Outdoor Writers Association of America

Fly Fisherman - June 24, 2019

Fly Fisherman's documentary "One Path" was recognized with two awards.

As reported, a man was spotted fly fishing on the National Mall in Washington D.C after heavy rains flooded the Potomac River. Industry

That Guy Fly Fishing on the National Mall

Jonathan Wright - June 11, 2018

As reported, a man was spotted fly fishing on the National Mall in Washington D.C after heavy...

Imperiled Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout are getting a helping hand with new strategies being developed by fisheries managers to control invasive predators. Industry

Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout Get New Help

Jonathan Wright - May 18, 2018

Imperiled Yellowstone Cutthroat Trout are getting a helping hand with new strategies being...

See More Industry

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×