Chloe Christenson, M.Sc. Student
Assessing the potential impacts of Whirling disease on Westslope cutthroat trout in the eastern slopes of Alberta.
My thesis will investigate the potential impacts of whirling disease on Westslope cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarki lewisi) populations in the eastern slopes of Alberta. To do this I will answer two main questions. First, are the temperature conditions in WSCT habitat favorable for parasite development? Second, is there presence of Myxobolus cerebralis in the worms and water that juvenile WSCT have historically been found? My thesis will investigate this with a stream temperature model, using existing and ongoing water temperature dataset in partnership with AEP. Also non-fish field collection methods will be used, such as worm community assessment and water filtrations to identify presence of Myxobolus cerebralis using qPCR methods. Together these factors can look at if the parasite has the potential to establish in WSCT habitat, and if any portions of the whirling disease lifecycle have begun to establish.