Connectivity of river networks and the movements among habitats can be critical for the life history of many fish species, and understanding of the patterns of movement is central to managing populations, communities, and the landscapes they use. We combined passive integrated transponder tagging over 4 years and strontium isotopes in otoliths to demonstrate that 25% of the mountain whitefish (Prosopium williamsoni) sampled moved between the Methow and Columbia rivers, Washington, USA. Seasonal migrations downstream from the Methow River to the Columbia River to overwinter occurred in autumn and upstream movements in the spring. We observed migration was common during the first year of life, with migrants being larger than nonmigrants. However, growth between migrants and nonmigrants was similar. Water temperature was positively related to the proportion of migrants and negatively related to the timing of migration, but neither was related to discharge. The broad spatio-temporal movements we observed suggest mountain whitefish, and likely other nonanadromous fish, require distant habitats and also suggests that management and conservation strategies to keep connectivity of large river networks are imperative.
Additional Publication Details
Spatio-temporal variability in movement, age, and growth of mountain whitefish (Prosopium williamsoni) in a river network based upon PIT tagging and otolith chemistry
Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences