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Three Pacific salmonid species Onchorynchus spp. have replaced the extirpated Atlantic salmon Salmo salar as the main migratory salmonid in the Lake Ontario drainage. One of those species, the nonnative rainbow trout O. mykiss, has become widely distributed within the historical Atlantic salmon habitat, occupying an ecological niche similar to that of juvenile Atlantic salmon. Consequently, both a tributary's carrying capacity for Atlantic salmon and competition from established nonnative species are important when considering the feasibility of Atlantic salmon restoration. Estimation of juvenile rainbow trout production will help evaluate the capacity of tributaries to produce salmonids that occupy similar niches. Geostatistical methods were applied to standardized and efficiency-corrected electrofishing data from three of New York's best salmonid-producing streams to precisely estimate juvenile rainbow trout populations. Results indicated that each study stream could produce 20,000-40,000 age-0 and 4,000-10,000 age-1 and older rainbow trout per year. Statistical interpolation indicated areas of significantly different production potential and points of significant changes in productivity. Closer examination of the niche similarity and competitive potential of these two species is needed to properly interpret these estimates with regard to Atlantic salmon restoration.
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Juvenile rainbow trout production in New York tributaries of Lake Ontario: implications for Atlantic salmon restoration