Arctic Grayling Research Project

Thanks to the chapter volunteers who assisted with angling on the Freeman River last week. The Alberta Conservation Association helped fund a research project at MacEwan University and the Northern Lights chapter is helping by fly fishing, providing expertise, local knowledge and shuttling fish and equipment.

Arctic grayling are fish species with high recreational and ecological value but are currently facing significant conservation challenges. As a result, they are provincially designated as a Species of Special Concern. Though currently considered a single species, deep genetic divisions have been described, called the Beringia and Nahanni lineages. While both lineages co- occur in Alberta, there is a little research on grayling phenotypic variation, and none directly comparing the Nahanni and Beringia lineages.

The goals of the project are to: 1) collect photos and tissue samples from 400 Arctic Grayling in Alberta thereby establishing a database of meristic and morphometric measures; 2) quantify phenotypic (observable characteristics) differences between fish that have been genetically assigned to Beringia or Nahanni lineages; 3) discuss the need for taxonomic revision of Thymallus and resulting conservation and management implications; 4) present this information to stakeholders.