Effects of turbidity on predation vulnerability of juvenile humpback chub to rainbow and brown trout

Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Predation on juvenile native fish by introduced rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss and brown trout Salmo trutta is considered a significant threat to the persistence of endangered humpback chub Gila cypha in the Colorado River in Grand Canyon. Diet studies of rainbow and brown trout in Glen and Grand canyons indicate that these species eat native fish, but impacts are difficult to assess because predation vulnerability is highly variable depending on the physical conditions under which the predation interactions take place. We conducted laboratory experiments to evaluate how short-term predation vulnerability of juvenile humpback chub changes in response to changes in turbidity. In overnight laboratory trials, we exposed hatchery-reared juvenile humpback chub and bonytail Gila elegans (a surrogate for humpback chub) to adult rainbow and brown trout at turbidities ranging from 0 to 1,000 formazin nephlometric units. We found that turbidity as low as 25 formazin nephlometric units significantly reduced predation vulnerability of bonytail to rainbow trout and led to a 36% mean increase in survival (24–60%, 95% CI) compared to trials conducted in clear water. Predation vulnerability of bonytail to brown trout at 25 formazin nephlometric units also decreased with increasing turbidity and resulted in a 25% increase in survival on average (17–32%, 95% CI). Understanding the effects of predation by trout on endangered humpback chub is important when evaluating management options aimed at preservation of native fishes in Grand Canyon National Park. This research suggests that relatively small changes in turbidity may be sufficient to alter predation dynamics of trout on humpback chub in the mainstem Colorado River and that turbidity manipulation may warrant further investigation as a fisheries management tool.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effects of turbidity on predation vulnerability of juvenile humpback chub to rainbow and brown trout
Series title Journal of Fish and Wildlife Management
DOI 10.3996/102015-JFWM-101
Volume 7
Issue 1
Year Published 2016
Language English
Publisher U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Contributing office(s) Southwest Biological Science Center
Description 8
First page 1
Last page 8
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N