Movements of fluvial Bonneville cutthroat trout in the Thomas Fork of the Bear River, Idaho-Wyoming

North American Journal of Fisheries Management
By: , and 



The majority of interior subspecies of cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii have been extirpated from large rivers by anthropogenic activities that have fragmented habitats and introduced nonnative competitors. Selective pressures against migratory behaviors and main-stem river occupation, coupled with conservation strategies that isolate genetically pure populations above barriers, have restricted gene flow and prevented expression of the fluvial life history in many populations. Existing knowledge about the movements and home range requirements of fluvial cutthroat trout is, therefore, limited. Our objectives in this study were to (1) determine the extent of seasonal home ranges and mobility of Bonneville cutthroat trout O. c. utah (BCT) in the Thomas Fork and main-stem Bear River and (2) evaluate the role of a water diversion structure functioning as a seasonal migration barrier to fish movement. We implanted 55 BCT in the Thomas Fork of the Bear River, Idaho, with radio transmitters and located them bimonthly in 1999–2000 and weekly in 2000–2001. We found fish to be more mobile than previously reported. Individuals above the diversion barrier occupied substantially larger home ranges than those below the barrier (analysis of variance: P = 0.0003; median = 2,225 m above barrier; median = 500 m below barrier) throughout our study, and they moved more frequently (mean, 0.89 movements/contact; range, 0.57–1.00) from October 2000 through March 2001 than fish below the barrier (mean, 0.45 movements/contact; range, 0.00–1.00). During the spring of both years, we located radio-tagged fish in both upstream and neighboring tributaries as far as 86 km away from our study site. Our results document the existence of a fluvial component of BCT in the Bear River and its tributaries and suggest that successful efforts at conservation of these fish must focus on main-stem habitats and the maintenance of seasonal migration corridors.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Movements of fluvial Bonneville cutthroat trout in the Thomas Fork of the Bear River, Idaho-Wyoming
Series title North American Journal of Fisheries Management
DOI 10.1577/M04-078.1
Volume 25
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Taylor & Francis
Description 10 p.
First page 954
Last page 963
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