Response of non-native lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) to 15 years of harvest in Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park

Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
By: , and 

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Abstract

Introduced lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) threaten to extirpate native Yellowstone cutthroat trout (Oncorhynchus clarkii bouvieri) in the 34 000 ha Yellowstone Lake in Yellowstone National Park, USA. Suppression (and eventual eradication) of the lake trout population is deemed necessary for the conservation of Yellowstone cutthroat trout. A US National Park Service gill-netting program removed nearly 450 000 lake trout from Yellowstone Lake from 1995 through 2009. We examined temporal variation in individual growth, body condition, length and age at maturity, fecundity, mortality, and population models to assess the efficacy of the lake trout suppression program. Population metrics did not indicate overharvest despite more than a decade of fish removal. The current rate of population growth is positive; however, it is lower than it would be in the absence of lake trout suppression. Fishing effort needs to increase above observed levels to reduce population growth rate below replacement. Additionally, high sensitivity of population growth rate to reproductive vital rates indicates that increasing fishing mortality for sexually mature lake trout may increase the effectiveness of suppression. Lake trout suppression in Yellowstone Lake illustrates the complexities of trying to remove an apex predator to restore a relatively large remote lentic ecosystem with a simple fish assemblage.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Response of non-native lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) to 15 years of harvest in Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone National Park
Series title Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
DOI 10.1139/F2011-122
Volume 68
Issue 12
Year Published 2011
Language English
Larger Work Type Article
Larger Work Subtype Journal Article
Larger Work Title Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences
First page 2132
Last page 2145