This should settle it... Steelhead = Rainbows

#1
I must've gotten this link from the board here:
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/17/s...gin&adxnnlx=1161121848-0wSIcQctEu20L0udSBIM/Q

Of course I haven't read the Russian studies, so this really is going on faith:

In Kamchatka, wild trout (or real trout) are abundant, fierce and incredibly adaptable, their genes undiluted by hatcheries.

After years of studying these fish, Russian biologists have established a surprising fact. A river’s stock of resident rainbow trout and its stock of sea-run steelheads are not just different forms of the same species. They are members of the same population.

In 2004, Maltsev and other scientists observed them spawning together, small-river trout on redds with heavy, sea-run fish. DNA analysis confirms rainbow trout can form one complex population, from mountain headwaters to the high seas.
 
#3
This should setttle it...Steelhed = Rainbows

TomB said:
same thing has been documented around the pacific northwest
Yet it is an argument I seen endlessly recycled here and other places. For instance whethere there are steelhead in the Cedar. Sometimes it's just nice to have a reference.
 
#4
This should settle it...Steelhead = Rainbows

Recently, I was told that Steelhead are classified as salmon. Was the "expert" at Salmon Day's incorrect?
 

Sourdoughs

-Marc Chapman, icthyoantagonist
#5
This should settle it...Steelhead = Rainbows

sashjo said:
Recently, I was told that Steelhead are classified as salmon. Was the "expert" at Salmon Day's incorrect?
Definately a mistake/misunderstanding there somewhere.
 

JS

Active Member
#6
If this is true, Im not arguing for or against, then what prompts certain fish to go to the ocean and others to stay in their respective river systems?
 
#7
This should settle it...Steelhead = Rainbows

sashjo said:
Recently, I was told that Steelhead are classified as salmon. Was the "expert" at Salmon Day's incorrect?
Steelhead and Pacific salmon are all classified in the same genus. So, in a sense they are 'salmon,' or at least 'Pacific salmon,' since Atlantic salmon are more distantly related and classified in a different genus. That being said, if you are going to call steelhead 'salmon,' then you would need to call rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, golden trout, etc. 'salmon,' too. Unless 'salmon' was not being used as a taxonomic term, but rather as some sort of general term for a trout relative that has an anadromous life history, in which case steelhead would be 'salmon' and rainbows (even if they were from the same clutch of eggs) would NOT be 'salmon.'

Clear?
Dick
 
#8
This should settle it...Steelhead = Rainbows

sashjo said:
Recently, I was told that Steelhead are classified as salmon. Was the "expert" at Salmon Day's incorrect?
I believe they are salmonoids, whereas brookies, mackinaws, and dollies are char.
 
#9
bigskeels73 said:
If this is true, Im not arguing for or against, then what prompts certain fish to go to the ocean and others to stay in their respective river systems?
you mean, why did the rainbow cross the saline/freshwater barrier?
 
#10
Just think of the oceans and seas as really BIG lakes and it all makes sense. Where do the resident fish usually spawn? In streams that are tribs to their home lake or stream. Same goes for the salty ones.
 

Ringlee

Doesn't care how you fish Moderator
#11
jbuehler said:
Just think of the oceans and seas as really BIG lakes and it all makes sense. Where do the resident fish usually spawn? In streams that are tribs to their home lake or stream. Same goes for the salty ones.
iagree
Simple statement that sums a steelhead up.

Chris
 
#12
"Originally Posted by bigskeels73
If this is true, Im not arguing for or against, then what prompts certain fish to go to the ocean and others to stay in their respective river systems?"

I asked this question of a guide who also holds a degree in fisheries biology. He explained to me that the fish go where they have the best chance to get food. In nutrient-poor rivers like we have around Seattle, if the fish can get to the ocean, they evolve to take advantage of that and become sea-run. If it is to the fish's advantage to stay in the stream (good food, difficult access to the sea), they evolve to stay there. There is no cut-off line where it is more advantagous to go or stay, rather it overlaps somewhere upstream, so in areas like Kamchatka where the local and anadromous fish mix, clearly the advantage of each life cycle is approximatly the same. DISCLAIMER: I am not a fisheries biologist, just paraphrasing someone who claimed to be....

Rich
 
#13
You have to keep in mind that oceans differ from "really big lakes" in one important aspect--salt water. This would mean that your regular run of the mill rainbow is biologically equiped to survive in salt water, unless I'm mistaken. Rainbows and steelhead are members of the same populations in rivers that host both sea run and resident fish, but are the fish in rivers which don't host anadromous populations equally equiped to survive in salt water? Is this ability common to other populations of, say landlocked rainbows?

It does make a lot of sense that these fish are members of the same population because they aren't distinct species which means that they are capible of breeding. It would seem to me though that evolutionarily, anadromous and resident rainbows are on their way towards distinct speciation because of the fact that resident fish would be less physically equiped to compete for mates which would limit interbreeding between residnet and anadromous fish. It isn't suprising either that they would find this in Kamachtaka where the size of the resident rainbows are probably more comprable to the size of the sea runs--at least the steelhead on the smaller end of the spectrum.
 
#14
Rockyday111 said:
but are the fish in rivers which don't host anadromous populations equally equiped to survive in salt water?
YES! For instance on the Cowichan River in B.C. there is a large population of huge brown trout. In recent years more and more anglers have been catching chromer browns near or in the mouth of the river. This would seem to indicate that some have adapted to going to sea or are at least flirting with the idea. Same thing in Argentina. These browns as far as I know all came from non-anadromous fish populations.

Also, I read in a fish biology book that any trout or char can be placed in a tank whose water is slowly (months) turned saline and survive. It appears all of these fish have the ability to adapt.
 
#15
jbuehler said:
YES! For instance on the Cowichan River in B.C. there is a large population of huge brown trout. In recent years more and more anglers have been catching chromer browns near or in the mouth of the river. This would seem to indicate that some have adapted to going to sea or are at least flirting with the idea. Same thing in Argentina. These browns as far as I know all came from non-anadromous fish populations.

Also, I read in a fish biology book that any trout or char can be placed in a tank whose water is slowly (months) turned saline and survive. It appears all of these fish have the ability to adapt.
Take into consideration the fact that all of our brown trout came from Europe and the British Isles (i.e. 'German-brown' and 'Loch Leven Brown'). Many of these populations did (and do) in fact go to sea. A nearly perfect Pacific Northwest analog of the searun brown, or 'sea-trout' is the searun cutthroat. They head to the estuaries and inshore waters but not really out into the open ocean.

There are examples of searun brook trout as well and, as far as I know, the only example of Salmo spp., Oncorhynchus spp. or Salvelinus spp. (excepting the inland forms like Goldens or Apaches) that have not been documented going to sea are lake trout.

An interesting trend that biologists picked up on long ago is that incidences or proportion of anadromy increase with latitude...surely related to productivity in streams. For example, rainbow trout in California than in British Columbia. Nutrients. This all changes, of course, when you're looking at a stream like the Kenai in AK where there are literally tons of marine nutrients brought into the freshwater environment by 40+lb swimming bags of protein.