The Stream Doctor

January 24th, 2005

Email YOUR Questions directly to the Stream Doctor. This is your opportunity to get an experts professional opinion on anything stream related.

Q. : Hi-I've some questions about salmonid biology; here's a few..
    1. What's the current thought regarding salmon/trout evolution (which came first),what are your thoughts?

    2. Oncorhynchus mykiss or Salmo gairdineri?

    3. I heard a rumor that "they" reclassified brown trout and Atlantic salmon as one. Is this true?

    4. Do you know anyone actively doing research in this field that I could contact?

    Thanks for your time.


      1. I don't have any personal thoughts on this; it's not my field. However, if you read Bob Behnke's discussion of salmonid ancestory in the book TROUT*, you will find that the all species of the Pacific salmon and the cutthroat and rainbow trouts are in the same genus, Oncorhynchus, thus denoting a common ancestor that gave rise to all species in this genus. It follows, then, that the Pacific salmons, cutthroat trout, and rainbow trout probably evolved in parallel, thus making it a moot point as to which came first.

      *Stolz, Judith and Judith Schnell (eds.). 1991. Trout . Stackpole Books. Harrisburg, PA. ISBN 0-8117-1652-X.

      2. Oncorhynchus mykiss. This name has been formally accepted as the correct scientific name for the rainbow trout.

      3. Not true. The Atlantic salmon is Salmo salar and the brown trout is Salmo trutta. Both are in the same genus, but they are distinct species.

      4. The recognized world authority on this is Dr. Robert Behnke, at Colorado State University. Bob recently retired, but is still active. His address is Dept. of Fishery & Wildlife Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523

      If you have a question, please feel free to contact me.
      ~ C. E. (Bert) Cushing, aka Streamdoctor
      105 W. Cherokee Dr.
      Estes Park, CO 80517
      Phone: 970-577-1584

      The 'Stream Doctor' is a retired professional stream ecologist and author, now living in the West and spending way too much time fly-fishing. You are invited to submit questions relating to anything stream related directly to him for use in this Q & A Feature at

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