Habitat use and movements of 25 adult cutthroat trout Oncorhynchus clarkii and 25 adult brook trout Salvelinus fontinalis from fall through winter 2002-2003 were assessed by means of radiotelemetry in a 7-km reach of a Rocky Mountains foothills stream. Temporal dynamics of winter habitat conditions were evaluated by regularly measuring the features of 30 pools and 5 beaver Castor canadensis ponds in the study reach. Groundwater inputs at three locations raised mean daily water temperatures in the stream channel during winter to 0.2-0.6??C and kept at least 250 m of the downstream channel free of ice, but the lack of surface ice further downstream led to the occurrence of frazil ice and anchor ice in pools and unstable habitat conditions for trout. Pools in segments that were not affected by groundwater inputs and beaver ponds tended to be stable and snow accumulated on the surface ice. Pools throughout the study reach tended to become more stable as snow accumulated. Both cutthroat trout and brook trout selected beaver ponds as winter progressed but tended to use lateral scour pools in proportion to their availability. Tagged fish not in beaver ponds selected lateral scour pools that were deeper than average and stable during winter. Movement frequencies by tagged fish decreased from fall through winter, but some individuals of both species moved during winter. Ice processes affected both the habitat use and movement patterns of cutthroat trout and brook trout in this foothills stream.
Additional publication details
Ice processes affect habitat use and movements of adult cutthroat trout and brook trout in a Wyoming foothills stream