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The Italian Alpine and Subalpine trouts: Taxonomy, Evolution, and Conservation

Water Research Institute (IRSA)—CNR, Largo Tonolli 50, 28922 Verbania Pallanza, Italy
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Biology 2022, 11(4), 576; https://doi.org/10.3390/biology11040576
Received: 21 February 2022 / Revised: 6 April 2022 / Accepted: 8 April 2022 / Published: 11 April 2022
In a great part of the world, trout fishing has long inspired human spiritual ideals of immersion into nature and recreation, far removed from the fast-encroaching urbanization. Concurrently, these values and emotions fueled a white-hot business, establishing a florid market of outdoor recreation. Since the 20th century, the trout-culture industry strived to provide anglers with fishing entertainment by stocking massive amounts of non-native trouts in dozens of countries, irrespective of the lakes’ and rivers’ carrying capacity. This had dire consequences on the structural and functional diversity of these ecosystems. “Trout wars” sparked throughout the world between the promoters of stocking activities and the promoters of “wild trout management” and ethics. The “Italian trout war” has been fought on the harsh battleground of trout taxonomy, ecology, distribution, and native vs. non-native interfertile species. Northern Italy, home to the Italian Alpine and subalpine trouts and economic center of the national trout-culture and stocking industry, was particularly affected by this clash. We review here the state of art of this ongoing debate, outlining our scientific view of the taxonomy, evolution, distribution, and sustainable management of the native Italian trouts of northern Italy.
During the last 150 years, the trout-culture industry focused on enhancing trout populations by stocking, in response to the growing anglers’ demand and the habitat degradation associated to the rapid urbanization and hydropower development. The industrialized north of Italy, home to the Italian Alpine and subalpine trout populations, is the source of most of the revenues of the national trout-culture industry. Its rapid growth, and the massive introduction of non-native interfertile trouts eroded the genetic diversity of native lineages, leading to harsh confrontations between scientists, institutions, and sportfishing associations. We review here the state of the art of the taxonomy and distribution of the northern Italian native trouts, presenting both scientific results and historical documentation. We think the only native trouts in this region are Salmo marmoratus, widespread in this region, plus small and fragmented populations of S. ghigii, present only in the South-western Alps. We strongly recommend the interruption of stocking of domesticated interfertile non-native trouts in this area, and recommend the adoption of Evolutionary Significant Units for salmonid fishery management. We further propose future research directions for a sustainable approach to the conservation and ecosystem management of the fishery resources and inland waters of northern Italy. View Full-Text
Keywords: recreational fisheries fishery management; introgressive hybridization; stocking; non-native species; allochthonous species; trout fishing; trout taxonomy recreational fisheries fishery management; introgressive hybridization; stocking; non-native species; allochthonous species; trout fishing; trout taxonomy
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MDPI and ACS Style

Polgar, G.; Iaia, M.; Righi, T.; Volta, P. The Italian Alpine and Subalpine trouts: Taxonomy, Evolution, and Conservation. Biology 2022, 11, 576. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology11040576

AMA Style

Polgar G, Iaia M, Righi T, Volta P. The Italian Alpine and Subalpine trouts: Taxonomy, Evolution, and Conservation. Biology. 2022; 11(4):576. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology11040576

Chicago/Turabian Style

Polgar, Gianluca, Mattia Iaia, Tommaso Righi, and Pietro Volta. 2022. "The Italian Alpine and Subalpine trouts: Taxonomy, Evolution, and Conservation" Biology 11, no. 4: 576. https://doi.org/10.3390/biology11040576

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