Declines in Pacific salmon Oncorhynchus spp. have been blamed on hydropower, overfishing, ocean conditions, and land use practices; however, less is known about the impacts of introduced fish. Most of the hundreds of lakes and ponds in the Pacific Northwest contain introduced fishes, and many of these water bodies are also important for salmon production, especially of coho salmon O. kisutch. Over 2 years, we examined the predation impacts of 10 common introduced fishes (brown bullhead Ameiurus nebulosus, black crappie Pomoxis nigro-maculatus, bluegill Lepomis macrochirus, golden shiner Notemigonus crysoleucas, green sunfish L. cyanellus, largemouth bass Micropterus salmoides, pumpkinseed L. gibbosus, rainbow trout O. mykiss, warmouth L. gulosus, and yellow perch Perca flavescens) and two native fishes (cutthroat trout O. clarkii and prickly sculpin Cottus asper) on wild juvenile coho salmon in three shallow Pacific Northwest lakes, all located in different watersheds. Of these species, largemouth bass were responsible for an average of 98% of the predation on coho salmon in all lakes, but the total impact to each run varied among lakes and years. Very few coho salmon were eaten by black crappies, brown bullheads, cutthroat trout, prickly sculpin, or yellow perch, whereas other species were not observed to eat coho salmon. Juvenile coho salmon growth in all lakes was higher than in nearby streams. Therefore, food competition between coho salmon and introduced fishes in lakes was probably not limiting coho salmon populations. Largemouth bass are widespread and are present in 85% of lowland warmwater public-access lakes in Washington (n = 421), 84% of those in Oregon (n = 179), and 74% of those in the eight northwesternmost counties in California (n = 19). Future research would help to identify the impact of largemouth bass predation across the region and prioritize lakes where impacts are most severe. Nevertheless, attempts to transplant or increase largemouth bass numbers in lakes important to coho salmon would be counterproductive to coho salmon enhancement efforts. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.
Additional Publication Details
Effects of introduced fishes on wild juvenile coho salmon in three shallow pacific northwest lakes