Radiotelemetry was used to document population structure in adult rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss from the Alagnak River, southwest Alaska. Rainbow trout (N = 134) longer than 440 mm were implanted with radio transmitters and tracked for varying periods from July 1997 to April 1999. Fifty-eight radio-tagged fish were tracked for sufficient duration (at least 11 months) to allow description of seasonal migratory patterns. Unique seasonal movements of fish suggested discrete, within-basin population structure. Telemetry data documented the existence of multiple migratory and nonmigratory groups of rainbow trout, indicating unique life history patterns. The observed groups consisted of what we defined as a lake-resident ecotype, a lake-river ecotype, and a riverine ecotype; the riverive ecotype demonstrated both highly migratory and nonmigratory movement behavior. Considerable variation in movement patterns was found within both the lake-river group and the river migratory group. Radio-tagged trout did not migrate between the two Alagnak watershed lakes in either year of the study, suggesting lake fidelity in the population structure. Alagnak River rainbow trout may have evolved the observed seasonal movement patterns to optimize winter thermal refugia and summer food availability of salmon eggs and carcasses.
Additional publication details
Variable migratory patterns of different adult rainbow trout life history types in a southwest Alaska watershed