As a means to increase visitation, early fisheries management in the National Park Service (NPS) promoted sport harvest and hatchery supplementation. Today, NPS management objectives focus on the preservation of native fish. We summarized management regimes of Olympic National Park's Lake Crescent, which included decades of liberal sport harvest and hatchery releases of 14.3 million salmonids. Notably, nonnative species failed to persist in the lake. Complementary analyses of annual redd counts (1989–2012) and genetics data delineated three sympatric trout (one rainbow; two cutthroat) populations that exhibited distinct spatial and temporal spawning patterns, variable emergence timings, and genetic distinctiveness. Allacustrine rainbow trout spawned in the lake outlet from January to May. Cutthroat trout spawned in the major inlet tributary (Barnes Creek) from February to June and in the outlet river (Lyre) from September to March, an unusual timing for coastal cutthroat trout. Redd counts for each species were initially low (rainbow = mean 89; range 37–159; cutthroat = mean 93; range 18–180), and significantly increased for rainbow trout (mean 306; range 254–352) after implementation of catch-and-release regulations. Rainbow and cutthroat trout reached maximum sizes of 10.4 kg and 5.4 kg, respectively, and are among the largest throughout their native ranges. Morphometric analyses revealed interspecific differences but no intraspecific differences between the two cutthroat populations. Genetic analyses identified three distinct populations and low levels (9–17%) of interspecific hybridization. Lake Crescent rainbow trout were genetically divergent from 24 nearby Oncorhynchus mykiss populations, and represented a unique evolutionary legacy worthy of protection. The indigenous and geographically isolated Lake Crescent trout populations were resilient to overharvest and potential interactions with introduced fish species.
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Vol. 88 • No. 4