16: Trout and Char of Russia
Grigorii Markevich and Evgeny Esin
This chapter includes both native and introduced trout and char species in Russia and areas within the former Soviet Union. This large land mass includes a significant portion of the range for many salmonid species. The Eurasian coast stretches for more than 30,000 km and comprises several hotspots of trout and char evolutionary divergence. Char are represented by several lineages and are distributed all over the Arctic North and North Pacific. Brown Trout Salmo trutta belong to two lineages and can be found in the western part of the former USSR area from the Barents Sea to the Aral Sea. The native range of Rainbow Trout Oncorhynchus mykiss is located on the Kamchatka Peninsula and Shantar Islands.
Watershed development was shaped by Pleistocene cyclic glaciations that triggered active salmonid evolution. The vast abundance of the char and trout and the size of the land mass of Russia makes classifying salmonid species somewhat difficult even though they have been studied since the beginning of the 20th century. Scientists often have differing views on the taxonomic resolution of salmonids. Salmonid classification is somewhat complex and can be controversial and a number of different scientific schools of thought have emerged. The development of molecular genetic techniques early in the 21st century has helped to more clearly identify taxonomic levels, which has previously been difficult with only morphometric identification. This paper presents the results of studies, mainly published in the Russian literature during the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries. Many of the works included in this review play a crucial role in understanding the origin, distribution, and evolution of the char and trout, but they have not been accessible for the world scholarly community due to the lack of translations into other languages. Salmonid introductions on the periphery of the former USSR remained almost unfamiliar to the world, though the scope of this activity was enormous. We hope this review will help to extend and expand the state-of-the-art knowledge of char and trout dwelling in the former Soviet Union. The principal investigation areas discussed in our chapter are shown in Figure 1.