We compared cui-ui (Chasmistes cujus) recruitment from two reaches of the Truckee River with histories of severe erosional downcutting caused by a decline in Pyramid Lake surface elevation. In 1975, Marble Bluff Dam (MBD) was constructed 5 kilometers upstream of the extant mouth of the Truckee River to stabilize the upstream reach of the river; the downstream reach of the river remained unstable and consequently unsuitable for cui-ui recruitment. By the early 2000s, there was a decrease in the Truckee River’s slope from MBD to Pyramid Lake after a series of wet years in the 1990s. This was followed by changes in river morphology and erosion abatement. These changes led to the question as to cui-ui recruitment potential in the Truckee River downstream of MBD. In 2012, more than 7,000 cui-ui spawners were passed upstream of MBD, although an indeterminate number of cui-ui spawned downstream of MBD. In this study, we compared cui-ui recruitment upstream and downstream of MBD during a Truckee River low-flow year (2012). Cui-ui larvae emigration to Pyramid Lake began earlier and ended later downstream of MBD. A greater number of cui-ui larvae was produced downstream of MBD than upstream. This also was true for native Tahoe sucker (Catostomus tahoensis) and Lahontan redside (Richardsonius egregius). The improved Truckee River stability downstream of MBD and concomitant cui-ui recruitment success is attributed to a rise in Pyramid Lake's surface elevation. A decline in lake elevation may lead to a shift in stream morphology and substrate composition to the detriment of cui-ui reproductive success as well as the reproductive success of other native fishes.
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USGS Numbered Series
Habitat quality and recruitment success of cui-ui in the Truckee River downstream of Marble Bluff Dam, Pyramid Lake, Nevada