Water and endangered fish in the Klamath River Basin: Do Upper Klamath Lake surface elevation and water quality affect adult Lost River and Shortnose Sucker survival?
In the western United States, water allocation decisions often incorporate the needs of endangered fish. In the Klamath River basin, an understanding of temporal variation in annual survival rates of Shortnose Suckers Chasmistes brevirostris and Lost River Suckers Deltistes luxatus and their relation to environmental drivers is critical to water management and sucker recovery. Extinction risk is high for these fish because most individuals in the populations are approaching their maximum life span and recruitment of new fish into the adult populations has never exceeded mortality losses in the past 22 years. We used a time series of mark–recapture data from the years 1999–2021 to analyze the relationship between lake level, water quality covariates, and survival of adult Shortnose Suckers and two spawning populations of Lost River Suckers in Upper Klamath Lake, Oregon. We compared competing model hypotheses in a maximum likelihood framework using Akaike's information criterion and then ran the top environmental covariates in a Bayesian framework to estimate how much of the variation in survival was explained by these covariates as compared to random variation. The complementary analyses found almost unequivocal support for our base model without environmental covariates. Estimated adult sucker survival was high across the time series and consistent with sucker life history (mean annual survival = 0.82–0.91). This suggests that adult suckers were generally robust to interannual variation in lake levels as well as consistently poor water quality within the years of our data set. Recovery time is limited, as a declining survival trend for adult suckers in recent years may be due to the onset of senescence. The successful recovery of suckers in Upper Klamath Lake may rely on shifting research from the causes of adult mortality and its relationship with lake surface elevation to the causes of poor recruitment into adult populations.
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Title||Water and endangered fish in the Klamath River Basin: Do Upper Klamath Lake surface elevation and water quality affect adult Lost River and Shortnose Sucker survival?|
|Series title||North American Journal of Fisheries Management|
|Publisher||American Fisheries Society|
|Contributing office(s)||Western Fisheries Research Center|
|Other Geospatial||Klamath River Basin|
|Google Analytic Metrics||Metrics page|