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Movement Patterns and Multi-scale Factors That Influence Exotic Brook Trout And Endemic Bonneville Cutthroat Trout Distribution And Abundance In The Mill Creek Drainage, Utah

by Nadolski, Benjamin Keith

Abstract (Summary)
ntroduced brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) are implicated as a primary factor leading to the decline in distribution and abundance of native cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii). However, not all introductions are successful, suggesting local conditions influence the success of invasions. Therefore, I sought to determine the multi-scale factor(s) that influence brook trouts' invasion success of native Bonneville cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii utah) habitats in Mill Creek, Utah. I conducted patch occupancy surveys to determine watershed-scale brook trout and cutthroat trout distribution. I also determined the relative abundance of brook trout and cutthroat trout at the reach-scale by conducting three-pass depletion electrofishing surveys at ten index sites throughout the drainage. Upon completion of those surveys, I collected key watershed and reach-scale biotic and abiotic data twice during base-flow conditions. In addition, to determine watershed-scale population connectivity and the potential for upstream invasion by brook trout, I assessed fish movement using two-way weir traps. At the watershed-scale, stream slope appeared to limit brook trout invasion into some portions of the drainage. Intermittent stream-flows and extreme levels of stream slope (> 10%) appeared to limit cutthroat trout distribution. At the reach-scale, regression analyses indicated aquatic invertebrate abundance and low winter water temperatures may have influenced the abundance of brook trout, but my models explained little variation in cutthroat trout abundance overall. I observed high rates (74%) of site fidelity amongst brook trout, and mobile brook trout moved short distances (range=62-589 meters) overall. Cutthroat trout also exhibited high site fidelity (92%), but their movement was more variable, as few individuals moved long distances (up to 12.15 km). These findings will help prioritize cutthroat trout management actions in this watershed, and will be useful in determining why brook trout are successful invaders in some systems, yet remain in low and patchy abundance in others.
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Advisor:

School:Utah State University

School Location:USA - Utah

Source Type:Master's Thesis

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ISBN:

Date of Publication:12/01/2008

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