Life Histories, Demography, and Distribution of a Fluvial Bull Trout Population Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/articles/ww72bd51c

To the best of our knowledge, one or more authors of this paper were federal employees when contributing to this work. This is the publisher’s final pdf. The article is copyrighted by the American Fisheries Society and published by Taylor & Francis. It can be found at:  http://www.tandfonline.com/toc/utaf20/current

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  • To describe the life histories and demography of a fluvial population of Bull Trout Salvelinus confluentus, we PIT-tagged and radio-tagged Bull Trout captured in Mill Creek, a tributary of the Walla Walla River (Washington–Oregon), during 1998–2009. Adult abundance declined 63% during 2006–2010, driven primarily by a 10-fold reduction in subadult-to-adult returns. Larger subadults and fall–winter emigrants survived at higher rates, but they were a small proportion of the subadult migrants. The survival rates of larger, generally older adults were also more than 40% greater than those of smaller adults. Changes in abundance influenced other characteristics of the population. For example, adult upstream movement into spawning areas during 1999–2005 peaked in late July, whereas the smaller runs observed during 2006–2010 peaked in early September, and the relationship between fish size and migration timing shifted. Unlike many adfluvial populations, more than 90% of the adults in Mill Creek spawned annually. Bull Trout that spawned in main-stem Mill Creek were primarily larger migratory adults; however, about 20% of the large adults were strictly or intermittently resident, remaining in the spawning area year-round. The downstream extent of individuals' migratory distributions varied greatly—from just downstream of the spawning area to the mouth of the Walla Walla River and potentially hundreds of kilometers into the Columbia River. Despite a large sample size of radio-tagged fish, radiotelemetry substantially underestimated the distribution and range that were evident from PIT tag detections. Life history terms such as “migratory,” “resident,” and “fluvial” and their associations with body size, movement, and distribution are useful for describing general patterns, but they fail to reflect the diversity and complexity within and among populations. For Bull Trout in Mill Creek, that life history diversity, including small, resident adult forms in the tributaries and a continuum of distribution for large adults, maximizes the use of available habitat and likely contributes to the population's persistence.
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  • Howell, P. J., Colvin, M. E., Sankovich, P. M., Buchanan, D. V., & Hemmingsen, A. R. (2016). Life Histories, Demography, and Distribution of a Fluvial Bull Trout Population. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, 145(1), 173-194. doi:10.1080/00028487.2015.1105870
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