Introduced, nonnative brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis) were removed from a mountain lake in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington, to examine the capacity of native Ambystoma gracile (Northwestern Salamander) in the lake to respond to the intentional removal of fish. Temporal trends (N) were calculated for A. gracile larvae/neotene and egg mass relative abundances in the Fish Removal and an adjacent Fishless Lake. The diel and spatial patterns of A. gracile in the lakes were also enumerated during time-intervals of fish presence in and after fish removal from the Fish Removal Lake. Sixty-six fish were removed from the Fish Removal Lake. The Ns for relative abundances in the Fish Removal Lake were positive for the study period and indicated that the number of larvae/neotenes and egg masses observed in the lake increased concurrent with the removal and extirpation of fish from the lake. Numbers of larvae/neotenes and egg masses observed in the Fishless Lake varied annually, but no overall positive or negative trends were evident during the study. Ambystoma gracile in the Fish Removal Lake, during fish presence, were predominantly nocturnal and located in the shallow, structurally complex nearshore area of the lake. After fish were removed, the number of A. gracile observed in the lake increased, especially during the day and in the deeper, less structurally complex offshore area of the lake. Fishless Lake A. gracile were readily observed day and night in all areas of the lake throughout the study. The A. gracile in the Fish Removal Lake behaviorally adapted to the presence of introduced fish and were able to recover from the affects of the fish following fish removal. This study underscores the important relationship between species life history and the variability of responses of montane aquatic-breeding amphibians to fish introductions in mountain lakes.
Additional publication details
Responses of Ambystoma gracile to the removal of introduced nonnative fish from a mountain lake