Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2011

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Andrew Martin

Second Advisor

Sharon Collinge

Third Advisor

Christy McCain


Cutthroat trout are endemic to the cold waters of the American West. The subspecies probably evolved in isolated drainages during the Quaternary. I developed nuclear DNA markers to distinguish between closely related subspecies and estimate divergence times between populations in the southern Rocky Mountains. The subspecies native to Colorado are much older than previous estimates: using a molecular clock, I estimated that greenback and Colorado River cutthroat trout split 0.79 MYA. Human movement of fish has obscured the evolutionary legacy of cutthroats. I used assessments of purity and stocking records for Rocky Mountain National Park, combined with Geographic Information Systems, to assess the utility of geographic measures to serve as proxies for propagule pressure. I found no significant relationships among genetic purity, geographic configuration of roads and trails, and stocking history. Understanding the evolutionary history and the role of human actions in altering evolutionary history has important implications for conservation.

Included in

Evolution Commons