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Protecting galaxids from salmonid invasions in Chile and the Falklands

This new Darwin Initiative project "Protecting Galaxiids from salmonid invasions in southern Chile" continues the project successfully completed in 2009 entitled "Reducing the impact of exotic aquaculture on Chilean native aquatic biodiversity" This project sought to reduce, among other goals, the impact caused by salmonids escapes on native fish fauna in the south of Chile. This new stage seeks to implement practical measures (ex situ conservation) that can be helpful to reverse the reduction in population of Galaxiids (native fish) in Chile. As in the previous project, we offer a platform for research collaboration at national and international levels, opportunities for volunteers and thesis work for undergraduate and graduate students. The approach is simple, we use molecular tools for characterization and identification of Aplochiton zebra and A. taeniatus ("peladillas") populations at risk of disappearing, for ex situ cultivation. These are classified as "endangered" by CONAMA, the National Comission for the Environment. The project proposes to direct conservation measures (cultivation and restocking), prior knowledge of the spatial organization of genetic variability, a measure of the potential for populations to survive in changing or stressful conditions.

Bridging the gap for sustainable aquaculture

The specific objectives of the new project are: 1. To identify Galaxiids populations in need of protection against invasions of salmonids, with a genetic approach that integrates (and model) data of salmonid´s pressure, habitat connectivity, the population structure of Galaxiids and gene flow using a combination of molecular markers, stable isotopes, and elemental composition analysis. 2. Develop and implement a program of reintroduction and cultivation of endangered species: Aplochiton taeniatus and Aplochiton zebra, on the basis of a recirculating aquaculture system (RAS) and ex-situ conservation, aimed at restocking and genetic conservation. 3. Develop new in-situ tests for conservation of Galaxiids, based on the exclusion of salmonid invaders in critical habitats, implementation of control measures and laws designed to prevent colonization and invasion of salmonid of Galaxiids refuge areas. 4. Building human and educational materials to raise awareness of conservation needs of Galaxiids and the threat posed by salmonid invasions. Non-destructive methods will be used for collection of target species. The fish will be returned to the environment, once the parameters of interest are registered for the study. Breeders will be selected to represent the pool of variability in nature to culture. Participating researchers generate scientific and popular publications and, especially, will participate in seminars and conferences, and exchange experiences with other relevant actors in the field.

Peladilla (Aplochiton zebra) - D. Fowler
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Project leader:
Dr. Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, University of Wales Swansea, Biological Sciences.
Singleton Park, SA2 8PP, Swansea, UK Tel. +44 (0) 1792 295383
Fax. +44 (0) 1792 295447
email: c.garciadeleaniz@swansea.ac.uk

Project coordinator:
Dr. Gonzalo Gajardo, Laboratorio de Genética & Acuicultura.
PO Box 933, Osorno. Chile
+56-64-333331; 333332
email: ggajardo@ulagos.cl

Funding for this project is provided through a DEFRA (UK) Darwin Initiative (Grant number 162-15-020).
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