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Movements by adult cutthroat trout in a lotic system: implications for watershed-scale management

Fisheries management and ecology 2009 v.16 no.4 pp. 329-336
Oncorhynchus clarkii, adults, autumn, fish, fisheries, habitats, landowners, lotic systems, radio telemetry, radio transmitters, rivers, spawning, spring, stream flow, streams, summer, watersheds, Idaho, Snake River, Wyoming
Movements by adult cutthroat trout, Oncorhynchus clarkii (Richardson), were assessed from autumn to summer in the Salt River watershed, Wyoming-Idaho, USA by radio telemetry. Adult cutthroat trout were captured during September and October 2005 in the main stem of the Salt River, surgically implanted with radio transmitters, and tracked through to August 2006. Adult cutthroat trout were relatively sedentary and resided primarily in pools from October to March, but their movement rates increased during April. Higher movement rates were observed among tagged fish during May and early June. Among 43 fish residing in the Salt River during April 2006, 44% remained in the river, 37% moved into mountain tributaries and 19% moved into spring streams during the spawning season. Fish did not use segments of mountain tributaries or the upstream Salt River where fish passage was blocked by anthropogenic barriers or the channel was dewatered during summer. Almost all the fish that moved into spring streams used spring streams where pools and gravel-cobble riffles had been constructed by landowners. The results suggest that adult Snake River cutthroat move widely during May and early June to use spawning habitat in mountain tributaries and improved spring streams. Maintaining the ability of adult fish to move into mountain streams with spawning habitat, preserving spawning habitat in accessible mountain tributaries and removing barriers to upstream movements, and re-establishing summer stream flows in mountain tributaries affected by dams appear to be habitat management alternatives to preserve the Snake River cutthroat trout fishery in the Salt River.