Serum steroid profiles were investigated in order to evaluate the potential use of circulating sex steroid levels as a tool for sex identification in brown trout. Changes in the serum concentrations of testosterone (T), progesterone (P), 17-β-estradiol (E2), and cortisol (F) in wild and farmed mature female and male brown trout, Salmo trutta L., were measured in each season (January, May, July, and October) in six rivers and four hatcheries located in the north-west of Spain. Serum cortisol levels in farmed brown trout were significantly higher and showed a seasonal pattern opposite to that found in wild trout. Because levels of the hormones under study can be affected by disruptive factors such as exposure to phytoestrogens (which alters the hypothalamic–pituitary–gonadal axis) and infection with Saprolegnia parasitica (which alters the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis), both factors are taken into account.

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