Comparison of burbot populations across adjacent native and introduced ranges.
Introduced species are a threat to biodiversity. Burbot, Lota lota, a fish native to the Wind River Drainage, Wyoming and a species of conservation concern, have been introduced into the nearby Green River Drainage, Wyoming, where they are having negative effects on native fish species. We compared these native and introduced burbot populations to evaluate potential mechanisms that could be leading to introduction success. We examined genetic ancestry, physical habitat characteristics, community composition, and burbot abundance, relative weight, and size structure between the native and introduced range to elucidate potential differences. The origin of introduced burbot in Flaming Gorge Reservoir is most likely Boysen Reservoir and several nearby river populations in the native Wind River Drainage. Burbot populations did not show consistent differences in abundance, size structure, and relative weight between drainages, though Fontenelle Reservoir, in the introduced drainage, had the largest burbot. There were also limited environmental and community composition differences, though reservoirs in the introduced drainage had lower species richness and a higher percentage of non-native fish species than the reservoir in the native drainage. Burbot introduction in the Green River Drainage is likely an example of reservoir construction creating habitat with suitable environmental conditions to allow a southwards range expansion of this cold-water species. An understanding of the factors driving introduction success can allow better management of species, both in their introduced and native range.