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Seasonal and temperature ‐ related movement of Colorado River cutthroat trout in a low ‐ elevation, Rocky Mountain stream

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ABSTRACT

Mobile species will migrate considerable distances to find habitats suitable for meeting life history requirements, and stream‐dwelling salmonids are no exception. In April–October 2014, we used radio‐telemetry to examine habitat use and movement of 36 Colorado River cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii pleuriticus (CRCT) in a 14.9‐km fragment of Milk Creek, a relatively low‐elevation stream in the Rocky Mountains (Colorado). We also used a network of data loggers to track stream temperature across time and space. Our objectives were to (1) characterize distribution and movement of CRCT, (2) evaluate seasonal differences in distribution and movement of CRCT, and (3) explore the relationship between stream temperature and distribution and movement of CRCT. During the course of our study, median range of CRCT was 4.81 km (range = 0.14–10.94) and median total movement was 5.94 km (range = 0.14–26.02). Median location of CRCT was significantly further upstream in summer than in spring, whereas range and movement of CRCT were greater in spring than in summer. Twenty‐six of the 27 CRCT tracked through mid‐June displayed a potamodromous (freshwater migratory) life history, migrating 1.8–8.0 km upstream during the spring spawning season. Four of the seven CRCT tracked through July migrated >1.4 km in summer. CRCT selected relatively cool reaches during summer months, and early‐summer movement was positively correlated with mean stream temperature. Study fish occupied stream segments in spring and fall that were thermally unsuitable, if not lethal, to the species in summer. Although transmitter loss limited the scope of inference, our findings suggest that preferred habitat is a moving target in Milk Creek, and that CRCT move to occupy that target. Because mobile organisms move among complementary habitats and exploit seasonally‐unsuitable reaches, we recommend that spatial and temporal variability be accounted for in delineations of distributional boundaries.

No MeSH data available.


Locations of the study area at Milk Creek, Colorado, and of Milk Creek in the Yampa River basin (gray)
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ece32847-fig-0002: Locations of the study area at Milk Creek, Colorado, and of Milk Creek in the Yampa River basin (gray)

Mentions: Milk Creek is a tributary to the Yampa River in northwest Colorado (watershed area = 578 km2; Figure 2). CRCT occupy the upstream‐most 14.9 km of Milk Creek (Hirsch, Albeke, & Nesler, 2006), hereafter the “study reach” (downstream limit = river km [rkm] 0.00; watershed area = 89 km2; elevation = 2,075–2,580 m above mean sea level). Bankfull discharge in the study reach is approximately 8.27 m3/s (Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2011), and summer discharge is typically <0.1 m3/s. Tributaries in the reach include Clear Creek (rkm 0.96), Grade Creek (rkm 4.29), Martin Creek (rkm 7.03), and Upper Creek (rkm 8.16). Other fishes in the reach include mountain sucker Catostomus platyrhynchus, mottled sculpin Cottus bairdii, speckled dace Rhinichthys osculus, and white sucker Catostomus commersonii.


Seasonal and temperature ‐ related movement of Colorado River cutthroat trout in a low ‐ elevation, Rocky Mountain stream
Locations of the study area at Milk Creek, Colorado, and of Milk Creek in the Yampa River basin (gray)
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Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC5383503&req=5

ece32847-fig-0002: Locations of the study area at Milk Creek, Colorado, and of Milk Creek in the Yampa River basin (gray)
Mentions: Milk Creek is a tributary to the Yampa River in northwest Colorado (watershed area = 578 km2; Figure 2). CRCT occupy the upstream‐most 14.9 km of Milk Creek (Hirsch, Albeke, & Nesler, 2006), hereafter the “study reach” (downstream limit = river km [rkm] 0.00; watershed area = 89 km2; elevation = 2,075–2,580 m above mean sea level). Bankfull discharge in the study reach is approximately 8.27 m3/s (Natural Resources Conservation Service, 2011), and summer discharge is typically <0.1 m3/s. Tributaries in the reach include Clear Creek (rkm 0.96), Grade Creek (rkm 4.29), Martin Creek (rkm 7.03), and Upper Creek (rkm 8.16). Other fishes in the reach include mountain sucker Catostomus platyrhynchus, mottled sculpin Cottus bairdii, speckled dace Rhinichthys osculus, and white sucker Catostomus commersonii.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

ABSTRACT

Mobile species will migrate considerable distances to find habitats suitable for meeting life history requirements, and stream&#8208;dwelling salmonids are no exception. In April&ndash;October 2014, we used radio&#8208;telemetry to examine habitat use and movement of 36 Colorado River cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii pleuriticus (CRCT) in a 14.9&#8208;km fragment of Milk Creek, a relatively low&#8208;elevation stream in the Rocky Mountains (Colorado). We also used a network of data loggers to track stream temperature across time and space. Our objectives were to (1) characterize distribution and movement of CRCT, (2) evaluate seasonal differences in distribution and movement of CRCT, and (3) explore the relationship between stream temperature and distribution and movement of CRCT. During the course of our study, median range of CRCT was 4.81&nbsp;km (range&nbsp;=&nbsp;0.14&ndash;10.94) and median total movement was 5.94&nbsp;km (range&nbsp;=&nbsp;0.14&ndash;26.02). Median location of CRCT was significantly further upstream in summer than in spring, whereas range and movement of CRCT were greater in spring than in summer. Twenty&#8208;six of the 27 CRCT tracked through mid&#8208;June displayed a potamodromous (freshwater migratory) life history, migrating 1.8&ndash;8.0&nbsp;km upstream during the spring spawning season. Four of the seven CRCT tracked through July migrated &gt;1.4&nbsp;km in summer. CRCT selected relatively cool reaches during summer months, and early&#8208;summer movement was positively correlated with mean stream temperature. Study fish occupied stream segments in spring and fall that were thermally unsuitable, if not lethal, to the species in summer. Although transmitter loss limited the scope of inference, our findings suggest that preferred habitat is a moving target in Milk Creek, and that CRCT move to occupy that target. Because mobile organisms move among complementary habitats and exploit seasonally&#8208;unsuitable reaches, we recommend that spatial and temporal variability be accounted for in delineations of distributional boundaries.

No MeSH data available.