Technical Considerations (Hubbs Collection Details)

—–Original Message—–
From: David & Carmela Kortum
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2010 10:38 PM
To: ‘Markle, Douglas F – FW’; ‘Mary Peacock’; ‘Helen Neville’; ‘Shannon Hurn’; ‘Patrick Trotter’; ‘Joe Tomelleri’; ‘Richard Mayden’; ‘Casey Dillman’
Subject: Markle, Douglas F – FW


Good to hear from you, and thank you for your input.   From what we understand, Joe is right regarding the 1985 samples.  These were caught above a barrier that prevented upward migration of rainbows, and were caught just after overflow from Alkali Reservoir —high in the Virgin Creek system—began to allow rainbows to migrate … from upstream. NDOW discovered these trout before Smith went there the following year.  A brief email reply from Patrick Trotter is imbedded below, for some additional info regarding the early (1934) Virgin Creek UMMZ samples {130532/212693}.

Interesting about the epurals . . .  Just a curiosity — I wonder if an exceptionally bright light would shine sufficiently through the semi-opaque caudal peduncle of a trout to reveal the epurals (like a quick cheap x-ray)?  The scales probably are not that opaque — though it might be interesting to try sometime.    I take it that the specimens from the 130532 sampling exhibit the two epurals typical of Lahontans?  (Might this then be an evidence/indication of the hereditary source for alvordensis?)

As for the DNA extraction and amplification — my understanding is that methods for “amplifying” DNA have been experimented with for at least two decades now . . .  An article that Dennis Shiozawa co-authored, published in the Great Basin Naturalist 52 (1), 1992 Pgs. 29-34, on DNA EXTRACTION FROM PRESERVED TROUT TISSUES would seem to provide at least some hope for amplification of DNA in order to gain meaningful data from archived trout specimens.  It seems that Mary Peacock has had some success.  Surely methods are getting better — or, perhaps some new methodologies will yet come to fruition (necessity being the mother of invention and such).   We’re glad that Mary Peacock is willing to try . . .   (Though perhaps some of your students will provide the next generation of extraction and analysis techniques — maybe looking for a DNA “fingerprint” — if not the actual DNA itself!)

Regarding meristic characters, Dr. Behnke analyzed 30 of the original Hubbs specimens to ascertain a meristic baseline for alvordensis characteristics.  If we can match (many of) those meristic characters with trout that would be utilized to reestablish a population of “alvordensis,” then it would seem plausible that we would have trout with at least some Alvord DNA in them.  If they carry (dominant) genes to maintain the physical characteristics and overall appearance of the Alvord Cutthroat Trout, then it would certainly seem to be a genuine victory — since the unique beauty and specialized characteristics of a trout — once thought to be extinct — would be preserved for future generations.

Thanks again Doug, for your reply and input — and for your time on the Creek.  . . . Just “over the hill,” Carmela and I found a Creek to be a rich habitat for quite a few remarkable bugs — some of which even briefly swam and looked like mosquito fish!  (But they were just “bugs”)

Please continue to share your thoughts and insights.  We’ll plan to communicate regarding anything that seems of interest.  Perhaps we’ll be able to connect with some field time in the future.


David and Carmela Kortum


Your recollection is partly right.  Rancher Tom Dufurrena did tell Hubbs that rainbow trout hadn’t been stocked in Trout Creek until shortly before he collected, but that was wrong.  In truth, the Oregon Fish and Game department first stocked rainbows in Trout Creek in 1929, five years before Hubbs got there.  What he collected from there in ‘34 was a group of trout with various degrees of hybridization that he recognized in the field, and Behnke confirmed later.  Virgin Creek on the other hand did receive its first plant of rainbow trout in 1933, and the cutthroats collected from this creek in ‘34 were still clean.  I saw Hubbs’ field notes years ago when I was working on the first edition of my book, but the only part I still have a copy of is the bit about the Virgin Creek specimens that I recited in my earlier e-mail.


Pat Trotter

Patrick Trotter - Author of Cutthroat Native Trout of the West

—–Original Message—–
From: Markle, Douglas F – FW
Sent: Tuesday, October 05, 2010 2:41 PM
To: David & Carmela Kortum; ‘Mary Peacock’; ‘Helen Neville’; ‘Shannon Hurn’; ‘Patrick Trotter’; ‘Joe Tomelleri’; ‘Richard Mayden’; ‘Casey Dillman’
Subject: RE: Alvord Phenotype SE Oregon, Museum Specimens, Strategy…

David et al.,

I’ve examined a few of the Lahontans from UMMZ including 130532 and specimens here at OSU. One thing that separates (ca 95%) of  Lahontans from all other Oregon salmonids is that they have 2 rather than 3 epurals (caudal fin bones). They also tend to have narrower parr marks and bigger interpsaces between them.

The Hubbs’ also collected “rainbow/hybrids” in Virgin Creek UMMZ 130531. But 6 of the 8 “rainbows” I examined in 130531 had 2 epurals typical of lahontans (2 could not be read). We also have Virgin Creek trout here collected in 1971 (OS 3834) and 5 of 6 have 3 epurals not typical of Lahontans, so it looks like (assuming no bias in the sampling) there was a slow swamping of those cuts by rainbows and it may have been mostly complete by 1971. The 1985 samples might be out of luck, especially if it’s just fin clips and not vouchered. For the traditional museum specimens fixed in formalin, I didn’t think you could get anything but very small fragments of DNA, or were you suggesting morphology? I never looked too closely for non-pigment characters among different Lahontans, except for Humboldts which are fairly distinct, but there might be something there.


Douglas F. Markle, Dept. Fisheries & Wildlife

104 Nash Hall, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331-3803

Doug Markle, Professor of Fisheries, OSU Department of Fish and Wildlife

—– Original Message —–
From: Patrick Trotter
To: ‘David & Carmela Kortum’ ; ‘Richard Mayden’ ; ‘Joe Tomelleri’
Sent: Tuesday, September 21, 2010 3:12 AM
Subject: RE: 83 Museum Specimens at University of Michigan

Dave and Carmela,

I am not sure how many trout in total Hubbs collected from Alvord Basin streams in 1934.  It is my understanding that his full collection included trout from Virgin Creek, Thousand Creek, and Trout Creek.  Of these, only the specimens from Virgin Creek were free of hybridization with stocked rainbow trout and thus would represent the original alvordensis (Hubbs’ name for the subspecies).  According to Hubbs’ field notes, his Virgin Creek collection included 82 specimens designated as paratopotypes  (UMMZ Collection no. 130532) with one specimen, UMMZZ12693 designated as holotype.  (Dr. Behnke later examined 30 of these Virgin Creek specimens to derive the meristic character set for the subspecies, something Hubbs had not done himself).  So if, as you say, the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology says that the Hubbs collection remains intact, then there should be 82 pure Virgin Creek Alvords preserved at the museum, . . .

Having said that, however, Mary may be right in saying that extracting usable DNA from these specimens, regardless of numbers, could prove difficult, especially if they were originally preserved in formaldehyde as they probably were.  I think Dennis Shiozawa’s lab has attempted to recover DNA from museum specimens in the past without success, but he or one of the other experts on your distribution list would be better able to speak to that.

I guess the way I see this is consistent with Behnke’s view; genetic and other work to better characterize the ***** phenotype would be nice, but it isn’t a necessary prerequisite for a transplant—which puts the ball back in Shannon’s court…or maybe TU’s?  One of these agencies will have to apply for a grant to get the ball rolling, regardless of what is done first or who does it.

Best regards,
Patrick Trotter

Patrick Trotter - Cutthraot Native Trout of the West

About kortumofdiscovery

Kortum of Discovery (a slight play on Lewis & Clark's Corps of Discovery) is a family team that is Affirming the Exceptional Beauty of Nature, one Adventure at a Time. With a focus toward rare and endangered species in the Great Basin and American west: discoveries, unique methodologies, and many “tall tales to tell” are continually being shared around the campfire!
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