Brown Trout in Serbia
Three major European watersheds intersect in the territory of Serbia: the Danubian (rivers Morava, Drina and Timok), Adriatic (River Beli Drim) and Aegean (rivers Pčinja and Dragovištica) drainages. This area thus provides an excellent study site for gathering potentially rich phylogeographic information concentrated within a relatively small geographic range.
Historically, numerous Salmo taxa (e.g. S. farioides, S. labrax, S. macedonicus and S. marmoratus) have been described for the region (Pallas, 1841; Karaman, 1924; Karaman, 1938; see also Simonović, 2001; Marić et. al., 2004) and the status of the majority of these is still uncertain. The main goal of the present study was to evaluate the genetic diversity of brown trout in Serbia, using the often-applied mtDNA control region as a marker. The results reveal the existence of three main phylogeographic lineages of brown trout: the Danubian, the Atlantic, and a "southern" lineage containing haplotypes from the so-called Adriatic and Mediterranean lineages. Fifteen haplotypes were found, seven of them were newly discovered (Marić et al., 2006).
No clear association between the historically proposed taxa and genetic assemblages were found, with the notable exception of a distinct clade, characterized by previously undiscovered haplotypes detected within the "southern" lineage. Most interestingly, the geographic distribution of the members of this clade corresponds well to the distribution of Salmo farioides, proposed by Karaman (1938), which was in 1938 erected to classify allegedly distinct brown trout of the south western Balkans (see also Šorić, 1990; Kottelat, 1997; Delling, 2003). This evidence supports an intriguing speculation that a genetically distinct lineage of brown trout may have evolved in the south-western Balkans. Although the current information may not be sufficient to draw any firm conclusions, we nevertheless suggest that some consideration should be given to this idea as it may have the potential to resolve an interesting aspect of brown trout evolutionary history in the Balkan Peninsula.
Our study also shows that indigenous brown trout still exist in Serbia, at least in the upper reaches of main watercourses. This information is of particular importance for management strategies, especially in terms of maintaining autochthonous genetic diversity of brown trout, both in Serbia and neighbouring countries.
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