This study explored the relationship between riverine physical complexity, as determined from remotely sensed metrics, and anadromy and genetic diversity in steelhead or rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss. The proportion of anadromy (estimated fraction of individuals within a drainage that are anadromous) was correlated with riverine complexity, but this correlation appeared to be driven largely by a confounding negative relationship between drainage area and the proportion of anadromy. Genetic diversity decreased with latitude, was lower in rivers with only non-anadromous individuals and also decreased with an increasing ratio of floodplain area to total drainage area. Anadromy may be less frequent in larger drainages due to the higher cost of migration associated with reaches farther from the ocean, and the negative relationship between genetic diversity and floodplain area may be due to lower effective population size resulting from greater population fluctuations associated with higher rates of habitat turnover. Ultimately, the relationships between riverine physical complexity and migratory life history or genetic diversity probably depend on the spatial scale of analysis.
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